Definition of tincture in English:



  • 1A medicine made by dissolving a drug in alcohol.

    ‘the remedies can be administered in form of tinctures’
    [mass noun] ‘a bottle containing tincture of iodine’
    • ‘During the nineteenth century, laudanum, made from a tincture of opium, was a popular sleeping aid, but it was known to be fatal in large doses.’
    • ‘They can come in a wide range of formulations - including syrups, tinctures, lotions, inhalations, gargles and washes.’
    • ‘The second tincture, a combination of common mallow, English yew and yarrow called AMT, tackles the emotional and energetic causes of the condition.’
    • ‘These mention only prescriptions like rhubarb, the blue pill, Dover's powder, tinctures and leeches listed in any contemporary European dispenser.’
    • ‘The tincture of opium might be useful, I supposed, for despair.’
    • ‘She bought a small bottle of stinging nettle tincture and placed one eyedropper-full twice a day under her tongue.’
    • ‘Powdered roots and tinctures are sold in health-food stores and some supermarkets.’
    • ‘To make it go down more easily, she suggests mixing the tincture with a morning glass of orange juice.’
    • ‘As to the tincture of opium (commonly called laudanum) that might certainly intoxicate if a man could bear to take enough of it; but why?’
    • ‘In 1944, I used to treat my Parkinsonism patients with tincture of stramonium (from jimsonweed) which was the only drug that we had.’
    • ‘Podofilox and podophyllum in tincture of benzoin are available.’
    • ‘No, it is not the tincture of laudanum I placed in my thin gruel.’
    • ‘Our tincture of opium of today was developed from Sydenham's laudanum.’
    • ‘Police discovered ten bottles of barbiturate and amphetamine capsules plus some tincture of Opium in front of the offices in a plastic carrier bag.’
    • ‘Having said that, my last ear infection was treated in part with a tincture of vinegar and medicine suspended in oil (yes, I dropped vinaigrette in my ear).’
    • ‘It promises relief but beware - read the notes on the box before taking the tincture or you could finish up with more ailments than a raging hypochondriac’
    • ‘A decoction, infusion or tincture of the seeds is useful in nervous debility, hysteria and other nervous disorders.’
    • ‘Skin should be prepared with 1 or 2 percent tincture of iodine or povidone iodine for incision, suture and collection of blood for culture.’
    • ‘For instance, as a way of warding off grey hair, our anonymous beautician suggests a tonic of 1oz of castor oil, tincture of jaborandi (an American shrub) and 3oz of bay rum, applied every other night.’
    • ‘Convenient alternatives include tinctures and pills, which are readily available in natural food stores.’
    solution, suspension, infusion, potion, elixir, extract, essence, quintessence, concentrate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1British informal An alcoholic drink.
      ‘he's a rough diamond, especially after a tincture or two’
      • ‘On a lunch-time it's never been easier to walk up the Shambles and its lying-in-wait cobbles since the early hours of the morning when balance aforethought may have been slightly influenced by a few tipsy tinctures.’
      • ‘All I do is play interminable rounds of golf, quaff the odd tincture or two, fiddle a bit on the heavenly exchange, and so on.’
      • ‘Thus, I read last week that Denis had been in the habit of referring to drinks by a number of peculiar names such as tinctures or even snorterinos.’
  • 2A slight trace of something.

    ‘she could not keep a tincture of bitterness out of her voice’
    • ‘This is a rather odd interpretation of the film since the barest tincture of right-wing patriotism as a theme is nowhere to be found in it.’
    • ‘The moon cast long fingers across their pale faces, splashing argent tinctures over a thousand powdered cheeks.’
    trace, note, tinge, touch, dash, suggestion, hint, bit, scintilla, impression, air, savour, flavour, element, strand, streak, vein, overtone, suspicion, soupçon, whisper, whiff
    View synonyms
  • 3Heraldry
    Any of the conventional colours (including the metals and stains, and often the furs) used in coats of arms.


  • Be tinged or imbued with a slight amount of.

    ‘Arthur's affability was tinctured with faint sarcasm’
    • ‘In 1851 the Geelong Advertiser reported: ‘Gold is revolutionising manners and language - everything is tinctured with the yellow hue, and ounces, and grains, have become familiar words.’’
    • ‘Every temple has a biwa tree somewhere in its precincts for just such use; the sliced leaves thus tinctured make a superior topical medicine as well, excellent for, among many things, taking the itch out of mosquito bites.’
    • ‘In her novels, however, Ford presented a more complicated message: one that more fully developed both sides of the culturally tinctured Baptist message for women.’
    • ‘Each bottle is a half-oil, half-water combination tinctured with various colors using plant and mineral essences.’
    • ‘Increasingly, however, his unionism and his commitment to property right were tinctured with a strong national feeling: this was encouraged by the haphazard nature of government action during the years of the Great Famine.’


Late Middle English (denoting a dye or pigment): from Latin tinctura dyeing, from tingere to dye or colour. tincture (early 17th century) comes from the obsolete sense ‘imparted quality’, likened to a tint imparted by a dye.