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The Interesting Origin of the Word 'Virus'

“Virus” is a word that is tremendously common. The flu and the common cold are both caused by viruses. So are much more dangerous illnesses like viral pneumonia and rabies.

A virus is interesting in and of itself. They are tremendously small and are lifeless and can remain that way for an enormous amount of time until they enter a plant, animal, or bacterial cell. They then begin to replicate themselves prolifically. They do so by replicating RNA rather than by using DNA like other living things.

The word is quite interesting, too. It should be remembered that not all viruses are harmful. Some are quite beneficial. However, the word ‘virus’ is Latin and it has been formally in use since the late 1500s. That is astounding, too, because germs weren’t even discovered for a couple of centuries.

The meaning of ‘virus’ is “poison”. Again, since not all viruses are bad, the meaning isn’t very accurate. Still, how many people know that ‘virus’ has a meaning and isn’t just a self-replicating thing?

  • Question of

    Did you know that ‘virus’ was the Latin word for poison?

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  • Question of

    Have you had any sort of viral illness in the past year?

    • Yes
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  • Question of

    Do you enjoy learning about the origins of words?

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Written by Rex Trulove

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