[kwahy-nahyn, kwin-ahyn or, esp. British, kwi-neen]

noun Chemistry, Pharmacology.

a white, bitter, slightly water-soluble alkaloid, C20H24N2O2, having needlelike crystals, obtained from cinchona bark: used in medicine chiefly in the treatment of resistant forms of malaria.
a salt of this alkaloid, especially the sulfate.

Origin of quinine

1820–30; < Spanish quin(a) (< Quechua kina bark) + -ine2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for quinine

Historical Examples of quinine

  • Well, shove in quinine, and keep him quiet, with hot bottles to his feet.

    The Burning Spear

    John Galsworthy

  • Which would be better to give him, quinine, or aconite and belladonna?

    The Very Small Person

    Annie Hamilton Donnell

  • But I fully believed that quinine was of very great use indeed.

    The Shadow-Line

    Joseph Conrad

  • The lower of the two, in one of its compartments, contained our provision of quinine.

    The Shadow-Line

    Joseph Conrad

  • Sulphate of quinine is made by the use of sulphuric acid as a solvent.

British Dictionary definitions for quinine



a bitter crystalline alkaloid extracted from cinchona bark, the salts of which are used as a tonic, antipyretic, analgesic, etc, and in malaria therapy. Formula: C 20 H 24 N 2 O 2

Word Origin for quinine

C19: from Spanish quina cinchona bark, from Quechua kina bark
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

Word Origin and History for quinine

alkaloid responsible for curative properties in the cinchona tree, 1821, from French quinine (1820), with chemical ending -ine (2) + Spanish quina "cinchona bark" (from which it is extracted), from Quechua (Peru) kina. Earlier in reduplicated form quinaquina (1727).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

quinine in Medicine




A bitter colorless amorphous powder or crystalline alkaloid derived from certain cinchona barks and used to treat malaria.
Any of various compounds or salts of quinine.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

quinine in Science



A bitter-tasting, colorless drug derived from the bark of certain cinchona trees and used medicinally to treat malaria. For hundreds of years quinine was the only drug known to effectively combat malarial infection. It has since been largely replaced by synthetic compounds that not only relieve the symptoms of malaria but also rid the body of the malarial parasite, which quinine does not do. See Note at aspirin.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.