1. A poisonous secretion of an animal, such as a snake, spider, or scorpion, usually transmitted to prey or to attackers by a bite or sting.
2. Malice; spite: "They dislike making their just criticism of a useful and earnest man an excuse for a general discharge of venom from small-minded opponents" (W.E.B. Du Bois).
[Middle English venim, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *venīmen, from Latin venēnum, poison; see wen-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.