Merriam Webster Word of the Day: Intoxicate

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is intoxicate. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Intoxicate means “to excite or stupefy by or as if by alcohol or drugs.” It can also mean “to poison.”

// The little bit of beer they drank was not enough to intoxicate them.

// The stunning spectacle of this Las Vegas show is sure to intoxicate spectators.


“The farm-to-table cuisine offers vegetarian, gluten-free, grass-fed meats and sustainable seafood options. Add to the meal a glass of wine to softly intoxicate the senses, and relaxation is guaranteed.” — Michael Alpiner, Forbes, 26 Feb. 2021

Did You Know?

From scents to songs, many harmless things have the power to intoxicate. At least, that is, by today’s standards. The origins of intoxicate are less inviting. You might have guessed that intoxicate is related to toxic; both words trace back to the Latin noun toxicum, meaning “poison,” and the earliest function of intoxicate was as an adjective describing something (such as the tip of an arrow) steeped in or smeared with poison. Toxicum turns up in the etymologies of a number of other English words including intoxicant (“something that intoxicates”) and detoxify (“to remove a poison from”), and also in a number of names for various poisons themselves. Happily though, today you’re likelier to be intoxicated by Cupid’s arrow than—one hopes—by a poison dart.

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