Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

A Word A Day — tincture

September 19, 2012

Word of the Day

  • tincture
  • audio pronunciation
  • \TINK-cher\


: color, tint
a : a characteristic quality : case b : a slight admixture : trace
: a solution of a medicinal substance in an alcoholic solvent

The herbalist offered to mix up a tincture that would cure Katie's headaches.

"A popular home-remedy suggestion making the rounds in Amish circles says a tincture of black walnut extract will cure what ails you, dentally speaking." — From an article by Tom Knapp in Intelligencer Journal/New Era (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), August 13, 2012


"Tincture" derives from the same root as "tint" and "tinge"—the Latin verb "tingere," meaning "to moisten or dip." "Tincture" specifically derives via Middle English from the Latin "tinctus," the past participle of "tingere." When the word first appeared in English in the 14th century, "tincture" referred to a coloring matter or dye, but by the 17th century the word had acquired a number of additional meanings, including "a slight infusion or trace of something." "Tinge" and "shade" are two other words referring to color that can be used the same way. "Tincture" can also refer, among other things, to the colors used in a coat of arms or an herbal or medicinal solution.

From Merriam-Webster Online at

Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.