One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A bitter and highly poisonous compound obtained from nux vomica and related plants. An alkaloid, it has occasionally been used as a stimulant.
- ‘Her weapon of choice was arsenic or strychnine, poison which she bought from a chemist in Turffontein.’
- ‘Others combined wine with strychnine, a poison used as a stimulant in small amounts.’
- ‘Some medicines used during the Civil War now are known to be poisons, including arsenic and strychnine.’
- ‘Are strychnine or warfarin poisons or noxious things?’
- ‘For example, potatoes contain solanine, mushrooms have strychnine, apples and apricots have cyanide.’
Early 19th century: from French, via Latin from Greek strukhnos, denoting a kind of nightshade.
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