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poison pen

1. adjective (hyphenated and used before a noun) Spiteful, malicious, or defamatory in composition, as of a letter or other written work, generally sent anonymously and with the aim of damaging or destroying a person's, group's, or organization's reputation or happiness. After agreeing to defend the alleged mass-murderer, the public defendant began receiving a large number of poison-pen letters from around the city. We've had enough trouble getting this restaurant up and running without having a poison-pen review like that in the papers!
2. adjective (hyphenated and used before a noun) Characterized by, typified by, or inclined toward the writing and sending of such letters or pieces of writing. The outspoken feminist figure has been the target of a hateful poison-pen campaign by online misogynists who have hidden behind the shield of anonymity to conduct their attacks.
3. noun A disposition, attitude, inclination, or ability typified by the writing and sending such letters or pieces of writing. Every year or so, there is a new piece of diatribe and vitriol from the poison pen of the infamous white supremacist. The poison pen of the oft-feared but well-respected critic has been enough to cause the downfall of more than one virtuoso's career.
See also: pen, poison

poisoned chalice

Something that initially appears to be good, wholesome, or positive, but is really harmful. Primarily heard in UK. We thought the change in leadership was going to have a positive effect on the organization, but it turned out to be a poisoned chalice.
See also: chalice, poison

poison-pen letter

A letter that contains malicious statements or accusations about the recipient or another party. Shortly after announcing his candidacy, he received an anonymous poison-pen letter attacking his platform.
See also: letter

What's your poison?

What do you want to drink? Let's have a drink. What's your poison?

one man's meat is another man's poison

What one person may consider good, enjoyable, or beneficial may be disliked by someone else. A: "I really don't understand the appeal of Harry Potter. There's so many better book series out there!" B: "Eh, one man's meat is another man's poison."
See also: another, meat, one, poison

One man's meat is another man's poison.

Prov. Something that one person likes may be distasteful to someone else. Fred: What do you mean you don't like French fries? They're the best food in the world! Alan: One man's meat is another man's poison. Jill: I don't understand why Don doesn't like to read science fiction. It's the most interesting thing to read. Jane: One man's meat is another man's poison.
See also: another, meat, one, poison

poison someone against someone or something

to cause someone to have negative or hateful thoughts about someone, a group, or something. You have done nothing more than poison Gerald against all of us! Stop talking to him! Your negative comments poisoned everyone against the proposal.
See also: poison

poison (someone or an animal) with something

to render someone or an animal sick or dead with a poison. He intended to poison his wife with arsenic. Barry wanted to poison the cat with something that left no trace. He poisoned himself with the cleaning compound.
See also: poison

poison something with something

to render something poisonous with something. She poisoned the soup with arsenic. They are poisoning our water supply with pollutants.
See also: poison

What'll it be?

 and Name your poison.; What'll you have?; What's yours?
Inf. What do you want to drink?; What do you want?; How can I serve you? (Typically said by a bartender or bar waiter or waitress.) Tom: What'll it be, friend? Bill: I'll just have a ginger ale, if you don't mind. Waitress: What'll you have? Bob: Nothing, thanks.

one man's meat is another man's poison

What is good for or enjoyed by one is not necessarily so for someone else. This adage, first recorded in 1576, is so well known it is often shortened, as in Pat loves to travel to remote areas but that's not for Doris-one man's meat, you know. Also see no accounting for tastes.
See also: another, meat, one, poison

poison-pen letter

A letter, usually anonymous, that makes malicious statements about the recipient or a third party. For example, She told the police about the poison-pen letters, but they said they couldn't pursue the matter . [Early 1900s]
See also: letter

a poisoned chalice

mainly BRITISH
If you describe a job or an opportunity as a poisoned chalice, you mean that it seems at first to be very attractive but in time will probably cause failure or trouble. She claims that the president appointed his former rival only in the belief that he was giving him a poisoned chalice and that he would not last more than a year. The contract may yet prove to be a poisoned chalice. Note: A chalice is an old-fashioned cup or goblet, usually made of metal and shaped like a wine glass.
See also: chalice, poison

one man's meat is another man's poison

If you say one man's meat is another man's poison, you mean that different people like different things. Talk about one man's meat is another man's poison, did you like that hideous painting in the kitchen? Note: The Roman author Lucretius said in `De Rerum Natura': `What is food to one person may be bitter poison to others.'
See also: another, meat, one, poison

what's your poison?

used to ask someone what they would like to drink. informal

a poisoned chalice

something that is apparently desirable but likely to be damaging to the person to whom it is given.
1998 New Scientist Anyone who discovers a superconductor that works at room temperature may be handing the world a poisoned chalice…the material might be too toxic to be usable.
See also: chalice, poison

one man’s ˌmeat is another man’s ˈpoison

(saying) used to say that different people like different things; what one person likes very much, another person does not like at all: I’m amazed that Tim enjoys cricket so much. Still, one man’s meat is another man’s poison, as they say.
See also: another, meat, one, poison

a ˌpoison ˈpen letter

an unpleasant letter which is not signed and is intended to upset the person who receives it: Most politicians get poison pen letters, sometimes threatening their lives.
See also: letter, pen, poison

what’s your ˈpoison?

(spoken, humorous) used to ask somebody what alcoholic drink they would like: Right, would anyone like a drink? Bill, what’s your poison?

a poisoned ˈchalice

(especially British English) a thing which seems attractive when it is given to somebody but which soon becomes unpleasant: He inherited a poisoned chalice when he took over the job as union leader.
A chalice is a large cup for holding wine.
See also: chalice, poison

lead poisoning

n. death caused by being shot with a lead bullet. (Underworld.) He pifted because of a case of lead poisoning.
See also: lead, poison

Name your poison

sent. State what you want to drink. (Refers to alcoholic drinks only.) Okay, friend, name your poison.
See also: name, poison


1. mod. wicked; evil. Stay away from her. She’s poison.
2. n. an alcoholic drink. Name your poison.

poison pill

n. an element introduced into the restructuring of a corporation so that it becomes undesirable for another corporation to take over. Acme Corporation approved a poison pill to prevent a hostile takeover.
See also: pill, poison

one man's meat is another man's poison

You may not like something that I like. The phrase, which was first written by the Roman poet Lucretius, was appropriated to refer to any situation where two people disagree over something. The 20th-century literary wit George S. Kauffman's most celebrated pun was “One man's Mede is another man's Persian.”
See also: another, meat, one, poison
References in periodicals archive ?
The Kennel Club's Caroline Kisko said: "The Kennel Club's deepest sympathies go to Jagger's owners, who have received confirmation that Jagger tragically died from the ingestion of poisoned material, and we ask that their privacy is respected as they grieve for their beloved pet.
Near Whittonstall in June, a red kite was poisoned by carbofuran and in July near Stocksfield July another red kite was found dead near a site where another bird had been recently poisoned, but was too decomposed for analysis.
One local lady reported her dog was poisoned with Strychnine in January 2010.
He said over 100 others including administrative head of the province, deputy police chief have also been poisoned.
The state could limit the rodenticides to indoor use only, so the poisoned critters are less likely to be eaten by wildlife, or require a professional license to purchase the chemicals to ensure they are used safely.
Among transplant physicians, 70% said they would consider or accept organs from patients that had been poisoned with methanol, cyanide, or carbon monoxide.
As these poisons move up the food chain, other wildlife and sometimes domestic pets, are unintentionally poisoned,'' she said.
If you believe someone has been poisoned, immediately call the nationwide toll-free number, 1-800-222-1222, to speak to the nearest poison center.
A tenant has to prove a child was poisoned by lead paint in the home and there is a very strict process for this.
To do this, it would be necessary to obtain multiple incomplete listings of houses with lead-based paint from local agencies, the houses where lead poisoned children lived, surveys, and so on.
Susanne Antonetta describes the poisoned landscape of our bones, blood cells, genes and minds in Body Toxic: An Environmental Memoir (Counterpoint, $26).
Depending on the amount of metaldehyde ingested, the average hospital treatment time for a poisoned pet is between 12 and 24 hours or longer.
Golden Leaf, Barren Harvest cited an estimate from the Brazilian NGO Servico Brasileiro de Justica e Paz that 300,000 people are poisoned annually in Brazil.
In the meantime, predators can eat the poisoned rodents and, in turn, ingest a lethal dose.