from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An agent, such as a medication, that restores or increases body tone.
  • n. An invigorating, refreshing, or restorative agent or influence.
  • n. See tonic water.
  • n. Boston See soft drink.
  • n. Music The first note of a diatonic scale; the keynote.
  • n. Linguistics A tonic accent.
  • adj. Producing or stimulating physical, mental, or emotional vigor.
  • adj. Physiology Of, relating to, or producing tone or tonicity in muscles or tissue: a tonic reflex.
  • adj. Medicine Characterized by continuous tension or contraction of muscles: a tonic convulsion or spasm.
  • adj. Music Of or based on the keynote.
  • adj. Stressed, as a syllable; accented.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Pertaining to tension, especially of muscles.
  • adj. Restorative, curative or invigorating.
  • n. A drink intended to restore or invigorate.
  • n. Tonic water.
  • n. Any of various carbonated, non-alcoholic beverages; soda pop.
  • n. Something that revitalises or reinvigorates.
  • adj. Pertaining to the keynote of a composition.
  • adj. Pertaining to the accent or stress in a word or in speech.
  • n. The first note of a scale.
  • n. The triad built on the tonic note.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or relating to tones or sounds; specifically (Phon.), applied to, or distingshing, a speech sound made with tone unmixed and undimmed by obstruction, such sounds, namely, the vowels and diphthongs, being so called by Dr. James Rush (1833) “ from their forming the purest and most plastic material of intonation.”
  • adj. Of or pertaining to tension; increasing tension; hence, increasing strength.
  • adj. Increasing strength, or the tone of the animal system; obviating the effects of debility, and restoring healthy functions.
  • adj. Characterized by continuous muscular contraction.
  • n. A tonic element or letter; a vowel or a diphthong.
  • n. The key tone, or first tone of any scale.
  • n. A medicine that increases the strength, and gives vigor of action to the system.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Characterized by distinctive tones. Same as toned, 2. See tone, 15.
  • Of or relating to tones or musical sounds.
  • Specifically, in music, of or pertaining to, or founded on, the key-note or tonic.
  • Of or pertaining to tension; increasing tension.
  • In medicine, increasing the strength or tone of the animal system; obviating the effects of weakness or debility, and restoring healthy functions; hence, bracing or invigorating to the mental or the moral nature.
  • n. In medicine, any remedy which improves the tone or vigor of the fibers of the stomach and bowels, or of the muscular fibers generally.
  • n. In music, same as key-note. See also key, 7 .

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a sweet drink containing carbonated water and flavoring
  • n. lime- or lemon-flavored carbonated water containing quinine
  • adj. imparting vitality and energy
  • adj. employing variations in pitch to distinguish meanings of otherwise similar words
  • adj. used of syllables
  • adj. relating to or being the keynote of a major or minor scale
  • n. a medicine that strengthens and invigorates
  • adj. of or relating to or producing normal tone or tonus in muscles or tissue
  • n. (music) the first note of a diatonic scale


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

New Latin tonicus, of tension or tone, from Greek tonikos, capable of extension, from tonos, a stretching, tone; see tone.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek τονικός, from τόνος. 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.



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  • (n.) Another term for moonshine.

    August 26, 2009

  • Boston term for soda. Not tonic water, but coke, pepsi, etc.

    December 30, 2007