February 26, 2010
things that are VENOMOUS are more then once referred to on this site as poisonous there is a big difference between the two.
Dear G. Davisson
Merriam-Webster.com defines Poisonous as “1 : destructive, harmful 2 : having the properties or effects of poison : venomous 3 : spiteful, malicious.” Merriam=Webster.com defines Venomous as “1 : full of venom: as a : poisonous, envenomed b : noxious, pernicious <expose a venomous dope ring — Don Porter> c : spiteful, malevolent <venomous criticism> 2 : having a venom-producing gland and able to inflict a poisoned wound <venomous snakes>.” Since that bastion for defining the English language uses the two words to define one another and indicates that they are interchangeable, we don’t feel we are entirely incorrect in our usage, though there might be a subtle difference that we should consider. The bite of a Brown Recluse Spider would be venomous, while poisoning would occur following the ingestion of a Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper. Rather than just providing a blanket statement chastising our language usage, can you please cite some concrete examples of the adjective usage that you find offensive? That way we can consider them more closely. Even better, can you provide the source for the definition that creates a solid distinction for the proper and incorrect usages of the two terms?