Definition of physic in English:



  • 1Medicine, especially a cathartic.

    • ‘He does not know what the ingredients of the physic were, but wonders whether it might have been brimstone and treacle, which, he says, was a common concoction among the home-made remedies of his father's younger days.’
    • ‘Hark ye, lords; ye see I have given her physic.’
    • ‘Like the Skimmington riders, he employs his costume and spectacle as a kind of physic, though his intentions are to minister to himself rather than the community.’
    • ‘Lear cries out, ‘Take physic Pomp, expose thyself to feel what wretches feel.’’
    • ‘The case of the lady was in the other extreme from that of her husband, for as he was past all the assistance of physic, so in reality she required none.’
    medicine, medical drug, medication, medicament
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The art of healing.
      • ‘The Tuatha fought to win the land from the Fomorians and they were helped by their god of medicine and physic, Diancecht.’
      • ‘In theory, but seldom in practice, their supposedly superior knowledge gave them a monopoly over the practice of physic and the authority to supervise the work of surgeons.’
      • ‘Now and then a man may arise among us who in any calling, whether it be in law, in physic, in religious teaching, in art, or literature, may in his professional enthusiasm utterly disregard money.’
      • ‘He devoted much of his time to studying medicine, and in 1670 was granted a licence to practise physic.’
      • ‘Laurent Joubert directed his wrath against those who dared to trespass into the realms of medicine, despite an ignorance of physic.’


[WITH OBJECT]archaic
  • Treat with a medicine.

    • ‘And he told us, with great humour, that when he was wanted to bleed the prince, or physic any of his people, he was generally found lying on his back, in bed, reading the newspapers, or making fancy sketches in pencil, and couldn't come.’
    • ‘Before he can physic the evil of Claudius he is himself dying; only then does he force Claudius to feel the potency of his own poisons.’
    • ‘The school nurse dosed and physicked them savagely for months.’


Middle English: from Old French fisique ‘medicine’, from Latin physica, from Greek phusikē (epistēmē) ‘(knowledge) of nature’.