Origin of tonic

First recorded in 1640–50, tonic is from the Greek word tonikós pertaining to stretching or tones. See tone, -ic
Related formston·i·cal·ly, adverban·ti·ton·ic, adjective, nounnon·ton·ic, adjectivepre·ton·ic, noun, adjective

Synonyms for tonic

Regional variation note

5. See soda pop.


a combining form occurring in adjectives that correspond to nouns ending in -tonia: catatonic.

Origin of -tonic

see origin at tonic Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tonic

Contemporary Examples of tonic

Historical Examples of tonic

British Dictionary definitions for tonic



a medicinal preparation intended to improve and strengthen the functioning of the body or increase the feeling of wellbeing
anything that enlivens or strengthenshis speech was a tonic to the audience
Also called: tonic water a mineral water, usually carbonated and containing quinine and often mixed with gin or other alcoholic drinks
  1. the first degree of a major or minor scale and the tonal centre of a piece composed in a particular key
  2. a key or chord based on this
a stressed syllable in a word


serving to enliven and invigoratea tonic wine
of or relating to a tone or tones
music of or relating to the first degree of a major or minor scale
of or denoting the general effect of colour and light and shade in a picture
physiol of, relating to, characterized by, or affecting normal muscular or bodily tonea tonic spasm
of or relating to stress or the main stress in a word
denoting a tone language
Derived Formstonically, adverb

Word Origin for tonic

C17: from New Latin tonicus, from Greek tonikos concerning tone, from tonos tone
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 tonic

1640s, "relating to or characterized by muscular tension," from Greek tonikos "of stretching," from tonos "a stretching" (see tenet). The meaning "maintaining the healthy firmness of tissues" is recorded from 1680s, first extended 1756 to "having the property of restoring to health."


"a tonic medicine," 1799, from tonic (adj.).


in the musical sense, 1760, from tone (n.) + -ic. Related: Tonicity.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tonic in Medicine




Of or producing tone or tonicity in muscles or tissue.
Characterized by continuous tension or contraction of muscles, as a convulsion or spasm.
Producing or stimulating physical, mental, or emotional vigor.


An agent, such as a medication, that restores or increases body tone.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.