• synonyms


[strik-nin, -neen, -nahyn]
  1. Pharmacology. a colorless, crystalline poison, C21H22N2O2, obtained chiefly by extraction from the seeds of nux vomica, formerly used as a central nervous system stimulant.
  2. an Indian tree, Strychnos nux-vomica, of the logania family, having small, yellowish-white flowers in clusters, berrylike fruit, and seeds that yield strychnine.
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Also strych·ni·a [strik-nee-uh] /ˈstrɪk ni ə/, strych·ni·na [strik-ni-nuh] /ˈstrɪk nɪ nə/.

Origin of strychnine

1810–20; < French, equivalent to New Latin Strychn(os) genus name (< Greek strýchnos a kind of nightshade) + French -ine -ine2
Related formsstrych·nic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for strychnine

Historical Examples

  • This was made by soaking wheat and oats in a solution of strychnine.

    Old Rail Fence Corners


  • If a tiger was raiding the cattle I would poison the "kill" with strychnine.

  • "Strychnine, miss," readily answered the well-informed guide.

    The Twelfth Hour

    Ada Leverson

  • Strychnine is found in them in the proportion of ½–1½ and brucine ½%–1.4%.

  • No Spaniard knew how to cure hurts from urari, which seems to be strychnine.

    Sir Walter Ralegh

    William Stebbing

British Dictionary definitions for strychnine


  1. a white crystalline very poisonous alkaloid, obtained from the plant nux vomica: formerly used in small quantities as a stimulant of the central nervous system and the appetite. Formula: C 21 H 22 O 2 N 2
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Word Origin

C19: via French from New Latin Strychnos, from Greek strukhnos nightshade
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 strychnine

powerful poisonous alkaloid, 1819, from French strychnine, from Modern Latin Strychnos, the genus name of the plant (nux vomica) from which the poison is obtained, from Greek strychnon, a kind of nightshade, of uncertain origin. The chemical was discovered 1818 by Pelletier and Caventou.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

strychnine in Medicine


(strĭknīn′, -nĭn, -nēn′)
  1. An extremely poisonous white crystalline alkaloid used as a poison for rodents and formerly used topically as a central nervous system stimulant.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

strychnine in Science


  1. An extremely poisonous, white crystalline compound derived from the seeds of the nux vomica tree. Strychnine is an alkaloid and was formerly used in medicine to stimulate the nervous system. It is currently used as a rat poison. Chemical formula: C21H22O2N2.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.