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See also: to nic


Alternative forms[edit]


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈtɒnɪk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɒnɪk

Etymology 1[edit]

From Ancient Greek τονικός (tonikós), from τόνος (tónos). 17th century writers believed health to be derived from firmly stretched muscles, thus tonic; the extension of tonic medicine appeared in the late 18th century. By surface analysis, tone +‎ -ic.


tonic (comparative more tonic, superlative most tonic)

  1. (physics, pathology) Pertaining to tension, especially of muscles.
    • 2009, Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice, Vintage, published 2010, page 316:
      Out in front and across the street, Doc noted half a dozen or so young men, not loitering or doing substances but poised and tonic, as if waiting for some standing order to take effect.
  2. Restorative, curative or invigorating.
    The arrival of the new members had a tonic effect on the team.
  3. (medicine, neuroscience) In a state of continuous unremitting action.
    • Peter Redgrave (2007) Basal ganglia. Scholarpedia, 2(6):1825.
      GABAergic neurones in the basal ganglia output nuclei have high tonic firing rates (40-80 Hz).
Derived terms[edit]


tonic (usually uncountable, plural tonics)

  1. A substance with medicinal properties intended to restore or invigorate.
    We used to brew a tonic from a particular kind of root.
  2. Tonic water.
  3. (US, Eastern Massachusetts, dated) Any of various carbonated, non-alcoholic beverages; soda pop.
  4. (figuratively) Someone or something that revitalises or reinvigorates.
    • 1978, “She's So Modern”, performed by The Boomtown Rats:
      Charlie ain't no Nazi / She likes to wear her leather boots / 'Cause it's exciting for the veterans / And it's a tonic for the troops.
    • 2011, Cathy Kelly, She's the One:
      'You're a tonic, Dee,' she said. 'And a real friend. Thanks.'
    • 2011 February 5, Paul Fletcher, “Newcastle 4 - 4 Arsenal”, in BBC[1]:
      The result is the perfect tonic for Newcastle, coming at the end of a week that saw the departure of Andy Carroll to Liverpool on Monday and an injury to Shola Ameobi during Wednesday's defeat at Fulham.
Derived terms[edit]


tonic (third-person singular simple present tonics, present participle tonicking, simple past and past participle tonicked)

  1. (medicine, archaic) To restore or invigorate.
    • 1887, Medical Press and Circular, volume 94, page 461:
      When all signs of effusion, dulness, pain, œgophony, and cough had disappeared he was dieted, stimulated, and tonicked.
    • 1939, Frank Grant Menke, Encyclopedia of Sports, page 17:
      The Persians, as a nation, were first to discover that fish were edible. The time is fixed at about 3000 B.C. This was their secret for some centuries—until the Assyrians learned about the elegance of fish for tonicking the brain.

Etymology 2[edit]

English Wikipedia has an article on:

From tone +‎ -ic.


tonic (not comparable)

  1. (music) Pertaining to or based upon the first note of a diatonic scale.
  2. Pertaining to the accent or stress in a word or in speech.
  3. Of or relating to tones or sounds; specifically (phonetics, dated) being or relating to a speech sound made with tone unmixed and undimmed by obstruction, i.e. a vowel or diphthong.
Derived terms[edit]


tonic (plural tonics)

  1. (music) The first note of a diatonic scale; the keynote.
  2. (music) The triad built on the tonic note.
  3. (phonetics) A tonic element or letter; a vowel or a diphthong.

Related terms[edit]




Borrowed from English tonic, from tonic water.



tonic m (plural tonics)

  1. drink made up mainly of cinchona
  2. tonic water

Further reading[edit]



Borrowed from French tonique.


tonic n (plural tonici)

  1. tonic