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See also: décoction


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From Old French decoccion, decoction, from Latin decoctiō, from decoquō (I boil down), from de- + coquō (I cook).



decoction (countable and uncountable, plural decoctions)

  1. An extraction or essence of something, obtained by boiling it down.
    • 1749, [Thomas Short], “[Of the Symptoms of Fevers, and Their Cure.] 10th, Of Feverish Heat”, in A General Chronological History of the Air, Weather, Seasons, Meteors, &c. in Sundry Places and Different Times; More Particularly for the Space of 250 Years. Together with Some of Their Most Remarkable Effects on Animal (Especially Human) Bodies, and Vegetables. In Two Volumes, volume II, Printed for T[homas] Longman, in Paternoster-Row; and A[ndrew] Millar, in the Strand, OCLC 912982174, page 512–513:
      [I]nſtead of Honey, Rob of Elder, Conſerve of Roſes, or Syrup of Violets; Glyſters, Pedilavia of emollient Decoctions with Nitre; or Elder, Vinegar, or Focus's of the ſame, applied with Sponges behind the Ears, to the Armpits, Groins, Hams, &c. or with Barley-water and a little Roſe-vinegar.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter 1:
      The transition is a keen one, I assure you, from a schoolmaster to a sailor, and requires a strong decoction of Seneca and the Stoics to enable you to grin and bear it.
    • 1993, Anthony Burgess, A Dead Man In Deptford:
      Poley offered a hot decoction of blackberries, saying: Peace?
    • 1994, Jeanette Winterson, Art & Lies:
      Witches and devils no longer threaten you and me. We don’t mind living next door to the harmless lady with her herb garden and decoction still, her black cat and red hair.
  2. The process of boiling something down in this way.
    • 1804, The Medical and Physical Journal (page 563)
      Even the fixed principles of vegetables, at least some of them, are injured by long decoction. The extractive matter, for instance, gradually absorbs oxygen from the atmosphere, and is converted into a substance nearly insipid and inert.

Related terms[edit]


Old French[edit]


decoction f (oblique plural decoctions, nominative singular decoction, nominative plural decoctions)

  1. Alternative form of decoccion
    • 1377, Bernard de Gordon, Fleur de lis de medecine (a.k.a. lilium medicine):
      IX cuillieres de la dicte decoction
      [take] 9 teaspoonfuls of the aforementioned decoction