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[stim-yuh-luh nt] /ˈstɪm yə lənt/
Physiology, Medicine/Medical. something that temporarily quickens some vital process or the functional activity of some organ or part:
Adrenalin is a stimulant for the heart.
Compare depressant (def 4).
any food or beverage that stimulates, especially coffee, tea, or, in its initial effect, alcoholic liquor.
a stimulus or incentive.
Physiology, Medicine/Medical. temporarily quickening some vital process or functional activity.
Origin of stimulant
First recorded in 1720-30, stimulant is from the Latin word stimulant- (stem of stimulāns, present participle of stimulāre to goad). See stimulus, -ant
Related forms
antistimulant, adjective, noun
nonstimulant, noun, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for stimulant
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • That he had needed a stimulant that day was because he had been soured and would not try with his wits about him.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • And the stimulant she found in the savage wooing of his unscrupulous rival.

  • It seemed as if every nerve was crying out for the stimulant which it was denied.

    A Waif of the Mountains Edward S. Ellis
  • What impulse, what stimulant, what overmastering, driving necessity had they compared with his?

    Garrison's Finish W. B. M. Ferguson
  • Alcohol is not a stimulant, but is really a narcotic that is very depressing.

    Boy Scouts Handbook Boy Scouts of America
  • Aromatic spirits of ammonia should also be given as a stimulant.

    Boy Scouts Handbook Boy Scouts of America
  • A stimulant may be given when the patient is so far recovered that he is able to swallow.

    Boy Scouts Handbook Boy Scouts of America
British Dictionary definitions for stimulant


a drug or similar substance that increases physiological activity, esp of a particular organ
any stimulating agent or thing
increasing physiological activity; stimulating
Word Origin
C18: from Latin stimulāns goading, from stimulāre to urge on; see stimulus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for stimulant

1772 (adj.); 1794 (n.), from Latin stimulantem (nominative stimulans), present participle of stimulare (see stimulation).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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stimulant in Medicine

stimulant stim·u·lant (stĭm'yə-lənt)
An agent that arouses organic activity, strengthens the action of the heart, increases vitality, and promotes a sense of well-being. adj.
Serving as or being a stimulant.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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stimulant in Science
An agent, especially a drug, that causes increased activity, especially of the nervous or cardiovascular systems. Caffeine is a commonly used stimulant.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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