Definition of tropic in English:



  • 1The parallel of latitude 23°26ʹ north (tropic of Cancer) or south (tropic of Capricorn) of the equator.

    • ‘The vineyard area extends from the tropic of Capricorn in the north to the 40th parallel in the south.’
    • ‘These are birds of the Antarctic and never fly North of the tropic of Capricorn.’
    • ‘North of the tropic of Capricorn, the sun will be in the southern sky during summer.’
    • ‘The Ellsworth Base lay above the Antarctic sea along what once was the tropic of Capricorn.’
    • ‘The trade has had a big impact on the meat industry, especially in the top end where only two abattoirs remain open north of the tropic of Capricorn.’
    1. 1.1Astronomy Each of two corresponding circles on the celestial sphere where the sun appears to turn after reaching its greatest declination, marking the northern and southern limits of the ecliptic.
      • ‘Then he briefly describes the four principal circles of the celestial sphere: equator, zodiac, and the two tropic circles.’
      • ‘A tropic point is the sun's position on the celestial sphere at the time of a solstice.’
      • ‘Accounts of the celestial sphere typically refer to other circles on its surface, including the arctic and Antarctic circles, the zodiac, tropics, and the solstitial and equinoctial colures.’
    2. 1.2The region between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
      • ‘Generally, breeding seasons tend to be longer in the tropics than in the temperate zone.’
      • ‘Transfusion-induced malaria continues its resurgence throughout much of the tropics and subtropics.’
      • ‘As a result, shells are comparatively thick and ornate in the tropics, and thin and plain at temperate and polar latitudes.’
      • ‘It is extensively cultivated in marginal rainfall areas of the tropics and subtropics, and selected varieties are widely grown in temperate climates.’
      • ‘The retreat of some taxa to the tropics and subtropics is partly explained by climatic cooling beginning in the Oligocene.’
      • ‘Each subtropical gyre is created by mountainous flows of air moving from the tropics toward the polar regions.’
      • ‘The Indica group is found in lowland paddies of the tropics.’
      • ‘Common in the tropics, many species of bamboo grow in temperate climates as well.’
      • ‘Since we all stand to lose if the rich biological capital of the tropics is eroded, this is our problem too.’
      • ‘The worm commonly known as dog heart worm, is widely dispersed and found in the tropics, subtropics and temperate zones.’
      • ‘In the tropics, you can still find other, less desirable banana varieties, mainly grown as a starchy food staple rather than a sweet treat.’
      • ‘Typhoid fever continues to be a global health problem, especially in the tropics and subtropics.’
      • ‘It is mainly cultivated for its dry seeds and green vegetable in dry areas of the tropics and subtropics.’
      • ‘The proportions may be different in the polar regions and the tropics.’
      • ‘The group is normally confined to the tropics but some species are found in the temperate latitudes of the southern hemisphere.’
      • ‘Even in the tropics the water is rarely at body temperature so you will eventually lose heat.’
      • ‘Sometimes you will find the best kayaking tours in the tropics or the ocean.’
      • ‘Between 1970 and 2004 the average sea surface temperature in the tropics rose nearly 1 degree.’
      • ‘This sets up a system of interconnected deep and shallow currents that transport heat from the tropics to higher latitudes.’
      • ‘Even if you don't live in the tropics, you can enjoy exotic tropicals in your garden.’


Late Middle English (denoting the point on the ecliptic reached by the sun at the solstice): via Latin from Greek tropikos, from tropē turning from trepein to turn.