virus [vahy-ruh s]
noun, plural viruses.
1. an ultramicroscopic (20 to 300 nm in diameter), metabolically inert, infectious agent that replicates only within the cells of living hosts, mainly bacteria, plants, and animals: composed of an RNA or DNA core, a protein coat, and, in more complex types, a surrounding envelope.
2. Informal. a viral disease.
3. a corrupting influence on morals or the intellect; poison.
4. a segment of self-replicating code planted illegally in a computer program, often to damage or shut down a system or network.
Origin: 1590-1600; < Latin vīrus slime, poison; akin to ooze
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