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a medicine that invigorates or strengthens:
a tonic of sulphur and molasses.
anything invigorating physically, mentally, or morally:
His cheerful greeting was a real tonic.
Music. the first degree of the scale; the keynote.
Chiefly Eastern New England. soda pop.
Phonetics. a tonic syllable or accent.
pertaining to, maintaining, increasing, or restoring the tone or health of the body or an organ, as a medicine.
invigorating physically, mentally, or morally.
Physiology, Pathology.

pertaining to tension, as of the muscles.
marked by continued muscular tension:
a tonic spasm.

using differences in tone or pitch to distinguish between words that are otherwise phonemically identical:
a tonic language.
pertaining to tone or accent in speech.
Phonetics. (of a syllable) bearing the principal stress or accent, usually accompanied by a change in pitch.

of or relating to a or .
pertaining to or founded on the keynote, or first , of a musical scale:
a tonic chord.

a combining form occurring in adjectives that correspond to nouns ending in -tonia:
Contemporary Examples

She ordered food, with her usual vodka with tonic on the side.
Learning to Love a Famous Mother Evgenia Citkowitz May 7, 2010

She ate little but drank the vodka, leaving the tonic where it was – on the side.
Learning to Love a Famous Mother Evgenia Citkowitz May 7, 2010

The good news is that the departure of Berlusconi could be a tonic that awakens Italy from a stupor of lassitude and indifference.
Italy’s Troubles Are Not the Tipping Point for Global Economic Collapse Zachary Karabell November 9, 2011

And so Europeans sweetened it, giving us so-called tonic water, the “tonic” being the antidote to malaria.
A Malaria Vaccine That Cuts 46% of Infections Is a 100% a Big Deal Kent Sepkowitz October 8, 2013

(tonic water made today still notes “contains quinine” on the label).
A Malaria Vaccine That Cuts 46% of Infections Is a 100% a Big Deal Kent Sepkowitz October 8, 2013

Historical Examples

In the other form the tonic chord was artificial, that is to say, minor.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 13, Slice 1 Various

“What we want is to administer a tonic to the Conference in Milan,” he said airily.
The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad

The normal reaction is again modified by the tonic condition of the plant.
Life Movements in Plants Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose

There was a snap and tang in the breeze which braced one like a tonic.
Cy Whittaker’s Place Joseph C. Lincoln

But Schubert, instead of progressing harmonically, goes directly back into the tonic of A flat major.
The So-called Human Race Bert Leston Taylor

a medicinal preparation intended to improve and strengthen the functioning of the body or increase the feeling of wellbeing
anything that enlivens or strengthens: his 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

the first degree of a major or minor scale and the tonal centre of a piece composed in a particular key
a key or chord based on this

a stressed syllable in a word
serving to enliven and invigorate: a 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 tone: a tonic spasm
of or relating to stress or the main stress in a word
denoting a tone language

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.

tonic ton·ic (tŏn’ĭk)

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.


A large extent, amount, or number: I have a ton of work
A speed of 100 miles an hour; a high speed (1954+ Teenagers & car racing)


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