[stim-yuh-luh nt]


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 formsan·ti·stim·u·lant, adjective, nounnon·stim·u·lant, noun, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for stimulant

Contemporary Examples of stimulant

  • Then there is the nicotine: a stimulant that for the addict also has the added effect of calming the nerves.

    The Daily Beast logo
    My (Electronic) Cigarette Addiction

    Eli Lake

    January 31, 2013

  • What's interesting about the study's finding is that it dodges the trap that snares much of the research on stimulant medication.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Busting the Adderall Myth

    Casey Schwartz

    December 21, 2010

  • Because cigarettes can be either a stimulant or a relaxant, the game has two modes.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Get Therapy Through Your iPhone

    Josh Dzieza

    September 11, 2010

Historical Examples of stimulant

  • That he had needed a stimulant that day was because he had been soured and would not try with his wits about him.


    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.

  • 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

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 for stimulant

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

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

stimulant in Medicine




An agent that arouses organic activity, strengthens the action of the heart, increases vitality, and promotes a sense of well-being.


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.

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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.