Definition of tunic in US English:



  • 1A loose garment, typically sleeveless and reaching to the wearer's knees, as worn in ancient Greece and Rome.

    • ‘Some had old clothing, from ancient togas and tunics to overalls and denim.’
    • ‘Over the tunic he wore a scapula, a long tunic with wide, three-quarter length sleeves, usually of a darker undyed wool.’
    • ‘This garment was a wool or linen tunic reaching the knee, with baggy, elbow length sleeves and side slits up to the waist to allow free movement.’
    1. 1.1 A loose, thigh-length garment, worn typically by women over a skirt or trousers.
      • ‘Both tunic and trousers were black, with aquamarine trim, silver piping on sleeves and legs.’
      • ‘He was short, and balding, and he was wearing a worn brown tunic and trousers.’
      • ‘She finishes washing and dresses promptly in an active attire of trousers and tunic instead of a gown.’
      • ‘I folded my tunic and skirt and set them off to the side.’
      • ‘She wore a white linen shirt under a thigh length yellow tunic laced at the sides.’
      • ‘Krista was wearing a brown tunic and skirt, and a brown hooded cloak.’
      • ‘I never wore the fancy gowns and dresses of the town girls, much preferring the worn leggings and tunics handed down to me when they became to small for my brothers.’
      • ‘Out of his jester's uniform, he was wearing a black tunic over dark blue trousers, as well as a huge smile across his pretty face.’
      • ‘He was dressed in silver tunic with silvery blue trousers, shirt and veil.’
      • ‘Baggy tunic tops, sweaters and man-size T-shirts can be worn until the end of your pregnancy if you get them large enough.’
      • ‘I sagged into his arms as he held me close, hands smoothing over the tunic and trousers I wore.’
      • ‘She has the same fashion sense as her mother, always wearing trousers and a loose tunic instead of a gown.’
      • ‘She wore moccasins, gloves, a skirt and a tunic, all made of leather.’
      • ‘The four actors, dressed in simple tunics over trousers, are on stage throughout.’
      • ‘As the minstrels played music, they ate, watching the dancers in scarlet skirts and gold tunics twist and sway timelessly.’
      • ‘Wearing a blue tunic with white under shirt and long black pants, he was a head higher than Hika.’
      • ‘I packed a lot of my pretty clothes, like my long tunic shirts with beads woven into them.’
      • ‘She was rinsing her wet hands on a white skirt, and her tunic was caked in flour.’
      • ‘He was in the matching tunic and trousers dressmaker Sarah had designed to match the gown of his bride.’
      • ‘The school already allowed girls to wear a headscarf with the shalwar kameez - loose trousers and tunic approved by local Muslim leaders.’
  • 2A close-fitting short coat as part of a uniform, especially a police or military uniform.

    • ‘He wore a long, faded green cloak over his worn mishmash of clothing: a tunic, trousers, and scuffed boots.’
    • ‘Ariana looked around and saw a tunic, a coat, a bow and a quiver of arrows.’
    • ‘The demise of the smart police tunic was not welcomed in favour of what became known disparagingly as the ‘Matalan’ fleece jacket.’
    • ‘All school aged children from both public and private schools are required to wear a uniform, usually a tunic with a white blouse wore underneath.’
    • ‘His uniform was immaculate; tunic and breeches pressed, black boots polished to a shine.’
    • ‘This boy, clad in a disheveled sailor's tunic and winter coat fit for a bear, stood no more than shoulder-high to me.’
    • ‘In the Franco-Prussian war there were three regiments, which fought fiercely at Wissembourg and Wörth, in their distinctive short light-blue tunics.’
    • ‘The epaulettes on the choker tunic of his black naval uniform bore the four stripes of his rank.’
    • ‘Soldiers, dressed in dull gray helmets and coats of mail, wearing the dark blue tunics with the golden lion, the symbol of the Realm, were marching up the street from the pier.’
    • ‘She was dressed in a tunic, trousers, shirt, boots and cloak, the traditional garb of a lone male warrior.’
    • ‘It had been a while since he had worn anything but the heavy grey pants, white tunic and navy half coat that made up his uniform.’
    • ‘The threatened uniform typically consists of a khaki military tunic with trousers, though in Scottish regiments the trousers are usually tartan or replaced by a kilt.’
    • ‘The 45-strong squad is to begin fund-raising soon to enable them either to make or buy their own glittering tunics and uniforms.’
  • 3Biology Anatomy
    An integument or membrane enclosing or lining an organ or part.

    1. 3.1Botany Any of the concentric layers of a plant bulb, e.g. an onion.
      • ‘Bulbs that have their own protective tunics, such as glads and crocosmias, can be stored in baskets, boxes, or mesh bags.’
      • ‘Avoid bulbs with spindly, pale stem growth, active root growth, missing tunic (the skin on the bulb) and surface mould or disease.’
      • ‘Tulips have a brown papery coating called a tunic.’
      • ‘The scale leaves are under the tunic and hold all the nutrients needed to grow the cultivar.’
    2. 3.2Zoology The rubbery outer coat of a sea squirt.
      • ‘The entire package is protected by a thin outer skin called the tunic.’
      • ‘The body of the zooid and tunic is transparent enough for the observation of heartbeats.’
      • ‘The muscle fiber types used for slow jetting, hovering and respiration are located immediately beneath the inner and outer tunics.’


Old English, from Old French tunique or Latin tunica.