Can the word 'Poison' be used as an adjective?

  • according to two lyrics, it can be

Poison heart

Poison apple

as far as I know adjective for 'Poison' is 'Poisonous', moreover, I couldn't find the proof (poison is an adjective) in a dictionary

if 'Poison' can be an adjective or modifier- where to find the proof or where to check such cases if not in dictionary, it confuses at times

  • 2
    Google attributive nouns for an explanation of nouns that act as adjectives in front of other nouns. You will find numerous helpful sites. Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 23:38

2 Answers 2


"attributive nouns" act as premodifiers for nouns that come after but often attribute very different and sometimes odd qualities.

  • Stone wall - is a wall that consists of stone
  • Tea cup - is a cup you drink tea from
  • Poison arrow - is an arrow the tip of which carries poison.

There are many other examples and you just need to feel how an attributive noun qualifies or modifies a noun ahead of it.

A "poison heart" can for instance be a heart that carries poison but which isn't poisoned and may even not be poisonous, or it can be a heart which possesses some characteristics of poison, or it can be a heart that is made of poison.

Every attributive noun should be defined by context in my opinion, otherwise it may be misunderstood and mistranslated.


It's very common to use a noun to modify another noun in English.

For example, a car powered by a rocket engine might be called a "rocket car".

Or a hamburger with cheese on it can be called a "cheese burger".

Or a kennel used to house dogs can be called a "dog kennel".

There's no particular rule for how the modifying noun relates to the main noun. You just have to figure it out from context.

A "poison heart" is most likely a heart that contains poison, and a "poison apple" is most likely an apple that contains poison.

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