Definition of tincture in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈtiNG(k)(t)SHər/


1A medicine made by dissolving a drug in alcohol: the remedies can be administered in the form of tinctures a bottle containing tincture of iodine
More example sentences
  • Skin should be prepared with 1 or 2 percent tincture of iodine or povidone iodine for incision, suture and collection of blood for culture.
  • Having said that, my last ear infection was treated in part with a tincture of vinegar and medicine suspended in oil (yes, I dropped vinaigrette in my ear).
  • In 1944, I used to treat my Parkinsonism patients with tincture of stramonium (from jimsonweed) which was the only drug that we had.
solution, suspension, infusion, elixir
2A slight trace of something: she could not keep a tincture of bitterness out of her voice
More example sentences
  • The moon cast long fingers across their pale faces, splashing argent tinctures over a thousand powdered cheeks.
  • This is a rather odd interpretation of the film since the barest tincture of right-wing patriotism as a theme is nowhere to be found in it.
3 Heraldry Any of the conventional colors (including the metals and stains, and often the furs) used in coats of arms.


(be tinctured)
Be tinged, flavored, or imbued with a slight amount of: Arthur’s affability was tinctured with faint sarcasm
More example sentences
  • Every temple has a biwa tree somewhere in its precincts for just such use; the sliced leaves thus tinctured make a superior topical medicine as well, excellent for, among many things, taking the itch out of mosquito bites.
  • In 1851 the Geelong Advertiser reported: ‘Gold is revolutionising manners and language - everything is tinctured with the yellow hue, and ounces, and grains, have become familiar words.’
  • Increasingly, however, his unionism and his commitment to property right were tinctured with a strong national feeling: this was encouraged by the haphazard nature of government action during the years of the Great Famine.


Late Middle English (denoting a dye or pigment): from Latin tinctura 'dyeing', from tingere 'to dye or color'. sense 2 of the noun (early 17th century) comes from the obsolete sense 'imparted quality', likened to a tint imparted by a dye.

  • A tincture was originally a dye or pigment. It comes from Latin tinctura ‘dyeing’, from tingere ‘to dye or colour’. Because dying involves making solutions and extracting active ingredients, it started to be used for a pharmaceutical extract in the late 17th century. The slang sense for ‘an alcoholic drink’ evolved from this in the early 20th century. A number of other words go back to tingere. Tint (early 18th century) was originally tinct, and tinge (late 15th century) comes from the related verb tingere, ‘to colour’. Stain (Late Middle English) goes back to tingere via a shortening of distain, from Old French desteindre ‘tinge with a colour different from the natural one’.

Words that rhyme with tincture


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: tinc·ture

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.