Definition of strychnine in US English:



  • A bitter and highly poisonous compound obtained from nux vomica and related plants. An alkaloid, it has occasionally been used as a stimulant.

    • ‘Some medicines used during the Civil War now are known to be poisons, including arsenic and strychnine.’
    • ‘Her weapon of choice was arsenic or strychnine, poison which she bought from a chemist in Turffontein.’
    • ‘Are strychnine or warfarin poisons or noxious things?’
    • ‘Others combined wine with strychnine, a poison used as a stimulant in small amounts.’
    • ‘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.