[ trop-ik ]
/ ˈtrɒp ɪk /
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See synonyms for: tropic / tropics on Thesaurus.com

  1. either of two corresponding parallels of latitude on the terrestrial globe, one (tropic of Cancer ) about 23½° N, and the other (tropic of Capricorn ) about 23½° S of the equator, being the boundaries of the Torrid Zone.
  2. the tropics, the regions lying between and near these parallels of latitude; the Torrid Zone and neighboring regions.
Astronomy. either of two circles on the celestial sphere, one lying in the same plane as the tropic of Cancer, the other in the same plane as the tropic of Capricorn.
of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or occurring in the tropics; tropical: romance under the tropic skies of Old Mexico.
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Origin of tropic

1350–1400; Middle English <Latin tropicus<Greek tropikós pertaining to a turn, equivalent to tróp(os) turn + -ikos-ic


non·trop·ic, adjectiveun·trop·ic, adjective

Other definitions for tropic (2 of 2)


a combining form with the meanings “turned toward, with an orientation toward” that specified by the initial element (geotropic), “having an affinity for, affecting” what is specified (lipotropic; neurotropic; psychotropic), “affecting the activity of, maintaining” a specified organ (gonadotropic).
Compare -trophic.

Origin of -tropic

see origin at tropic
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use tropic in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for tropic (1 of 2)

/ (ˈtrɒpɪk) /

(sometimes capital) either of the parallel lines of latitude at about 23 1/2 °N (tropic of Cancer) and 23 1/2 °S (tropic of Capricorn) of the equator
the tropics (often capital) that part of the earth's surface between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn; the Torrid Zone
astronomy either of the two parallel circles on the celestial sphere having the same latitudes and names as the corresponding lines on the earth
a less common word for tropical

Word Origin for tropic

C14: from Late Latin tropicus belonging to a turn, from Greek tropikos, from tropos a turn; from the ancient belief that the sun turned back at the solstices

British Dictionary definitions for tropic (2 of 2)


adj combining form
turning or developing in response to a certain stimulusheliotropic

Word Origin for -tropic

from Greek tropos a turn; see trope
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

Scientific definitions for tropic

[ trŏpĭk ]

Either of the two parallels of latitude representing the points farthest north and south at which the Sun can shine directly overhead. The northern tropic is the Tropic of Cancer and the southern one is the Tropic of Capricorn.
tropics. The region of the Earth lying between these latitudes. The tropics are generally the warmest and most humid region of the Earth. Also called Torrid Zone
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.