English edit

Etymology edit

Tinctures in heraldry (noun sense 1.2.3) can be divided into metals, colours, and furs.
An early-20th-century bottle once containing tincture of iodine (noun sense 2.3), which was used as an antiseptic.

The noun is derived from Late Middle English tincture (a dye, pigment; a colour, hue, tint; process of colouring or dyeing; medicinal ointment or salve (perhaps one discolouring the skin); use of a medicinal tincture; (alchemy) transmutation of base metals into gold; ability to cause such transmutation; substance supposed to cause such transmutation) [and other forms],[1] borrowed from Latin tīnctūra (act of dyeing) + Middle English -ure (suffix indicating an action or a process and the means or result of that action or process).[2][3] Tīnctūra is derived from tīnctus (coloured, tinged; dipped in; impregnated with; treated) + -tūra (suffix forming action nouns expressing activities or results); while tīnctus is the perfect passive participle of tingō (to colour, dye, tinge; to dip (in), immerse; to impregnate (with); to moisten, wet; to smear), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *teng- (to dip; to soak). Doublet of teinture and tinctura.

The verb is derived from the noun.[4]

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

tincture (plural tinctures)

  1. Senses relating to colour, and to dipping something into a liquid.
    1. (obsolete) A pigment or other substance that colours or dyes; specifically, a pigment used as a cosmetic. [15th–19th c.]
      • 1601, C[aius] Plinius Secundus [i.e., Pliny the Elder], “[Book XXXVII.] Of the True Originall and Generation of Amber. The Sundrie Kinds thereof. The Exercise and Superfluitie of People, as Touching Amber. The Medicinable Properties that It Affordeth. Of Lincurium, and the Vertues that It hath in Physicke.”, in Philemon Holland, transl., The Historie of the World. Commonly Called, The Naturall Historie of C. Plinius Secundus. [], 2nd tome, London: [] Adam Islip, →OCLC, page 609:
        [O]ur daintie dames and fine ladies have begun to ſet their mind upon this colour [amber], and have placed it in the third ranke of rich tincture: vvhereby vve may ſee there is no ſuperfluitie and diſorder in the vvorld, but it hath a pretence and cloake of ſome precious name or other.
      • 1625, [Samuel] Purchas, “The Voyage of Nicolo di Conti a Venetian, to the Indies, Mangi, Cambalu and Quinsai, with Some Observations of Those Places”, in Purchas His Pilgrimes. [], 3rd part, London: [] William Stansby for Henrie Fetherstone, [], →OCLC, 1st book, page 159:
        [A]ll both men and vvomen paint or embroider their skinnes vvith Iron pennes, putting indelible tinctures thereunto.
      • 1693, John Dryden, “[The Dedication]”, in The Satires of Decimus Junius Juvenalis. Translated into English Verse. [] Together with the Satires of Aulus Persius Flaccus. [], London: Printed for Jacob Tonson [], →OCLC, page xxi:
        'Tis thus, ſays [André] Dacier, that vve lay a full Colour, vvhen the VVool has taken the vvhole Tincture, and drunk in as much of the Dye as it can receive.
      • 1726 October 28, [Jonathan Swift], “The Author Permitted to See the Grand Academy of Lagado. []”, in Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. [] [Gulliver’s Travels], volume II, London: [] Benj[amin] Motte, [], →OCLC, part III (A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Glubbdubdribb, Luggnagg, and Japan), page 78:
        I was at the Mathematical School, where the Maſter taught his Pupils after a Method ſcarce imaginable to us in Europe. The Propoſition and Demonſtration were fairly written on a thin Wafer, with Ink compoſed of a Cephalick Tincture. This the Student was to ſwallow upon a faſting Stomach, and for three days following eat nothing but Bread and Water. As the Wafer digeſted, the Tincture mounted to his Brain, bearing the Propoſition along with it.
    2. (by extension)
      1. A colour or tint, especially if produced by a pigment or something which stains; a tinge.
      2. (figuratively) A slight addition of a thing to something else; a shade, a touch, a trace.
      3. (heraldry) A hue or pattern used in the depiction of a coat of arms; namely, a colour, fur, or metal.
    3. (obsolete)
      1. The act of colouring or dyeing.
      2. (figuratively)
        1. A slight physical quality other than colour (especially taste), or an abstract quality, added to something; a tinge.
          a tincture of orange peel
          • 1610, William Camden, “Sussex”, in Philémon Holland, transl., Britain, or A Chorographicall Description of the Most Flourishing Kingdomes, England, Scotland, and Ireland, [], London: [] [Eliot’s Court Press for] Georgii Bishop & Ioannis Norton, →OCLC, page 306:
            And yet the iron here vvrought, is not in every place of like goodneſſe, but generally more brittle than is the Spaniſh iron, vvhether it bee by the nature, or tincture and temper thereof.
          • 1711 August 26 (Gregorian calendar), [Richard Steele], “WEDNESDAY, August 15, 1711”, in The Spectator, number 144; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, [], volume II, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, →OCLC, page 255:
            Her look, her voice, her gesture, and whole behaviour is truly feminine. A goodness mixed with fear gives a tincture to all her behaviour.
            The spelling has been modernized.
          • 1711 September 14 (Gregorian calendar), [Joseph Addison; Richard Steele et al.], “MONDAY, September 3, 1711”, in The Spectator, number 160; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, [], volume II, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, →OCLC, page 329:
            The greatest genius which runs through the Arts and Sciences, takes a kind of tincture from them, and falls unavoidably into imitation.
            The spelling has been modernized.
          • 1735, Alexander Pope, “Epistle I. To Sir Richard Temple Lord Viscount Cobham.”, in The Works of Mr. Alexander Pope, volume II, London: [] J. Wright, for Lawton Gilliver [], →OCLC, page 48:
            All Manners take a tincture from our own, / Or come diſcolour'd thro' our Paſſions ſhovvn, / Or Fancy's beam inlarges, multiplies, / Contracts, inverts, and gives ten thouſand dyes.
          • 1763, Patrick Murdoch, “An Account of the Life and Writings of Mr James Thomson”, in James Thomson, edited by [George Lyttelton, 1st Baron Lyttelton], The Works of James Thomson, [], volume I, London: [] A[ndrew] Millar, [], published 1762, →OCLC, page i:
            It is commonly ſaid, that the life of a good writer is beſt read in his works; which can ſcarce fail to receive a peculiar tincture from his temper, manners, and habits: []
          • 1760, Edmund Burke, “An Essay towards an Abridgment of the English History. []”, in [Walker King], editor, The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, new edition, volume X, London: [] [R. Gilbert] for C[harles] and J[ohn] Rivington, [], published 1826, →OCLC, book IIbook II, chapter I (The Entry and Settlement of the Saxons, and Their Conversion to Christianity), page 255:
            [I]n England the Saxon language received little or no tincture from the Welsh; and it seems, even among the lowest people, to have continued a dialect of pure Teutonick to the time, in which it was itself blended with the Norman.
          • 1849, Thomas Babington Macaulay, chapter I, in The History of England from the Accession of James II, volume I, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, →OCLC, page 35:
            Regular army there was none. Every man had a slight tincture of soldiership, and scarcely any man more than a slight tincture.
        2. A small flaw; a blemish, a stain.
          • a. 1659 (date written), John Cleveland, “To the Earl of Holland, then Chancellor of the University of Cambridge”, in J[ohn] L[ake], S[amuel] D[rake], editors, The Works of John Cleveland, Containing His Poems, Orations, Epistles, [], London: [] R. Holt, for Obadiah Blagrave, [], published 1687, →OCLC, page 114:
            To offend againſt ſo gracious a Patron, vvould add a Tincture to our Diſobedience; yet ſuch is the Iniquity of our Condition, that vve are forced to defer our Gratitude.
      3. (Christianity) Synonym of baptism
  2. Scientific and alchemical senses.
    1. (pharmacy) A medicine consisting of one or more substances dissolved in ethanol or some other solvent.
      tincture of cannabis    tincture of iodine
    2. (by extension, humorous) A (small) alcoholic drink.
    3. (obsolete except historical)
      1. (alchemy)
        1. An immaterial substance or spiritual principle which was thought capable of being instilled into physical things; also, the essence or spirit of something.
          • 1599, T[homas] M[offett], The Silkewormes, and Their Flies: [], London: [] V[alentine] S[immes] for Nicholas Ling, [], →OCLC, pages 67–68:
            For vvhat is ſilke but eu'n a Quinteſſence, / Made vvithout hands beyond al humane ſenſe? / A quinteſſence? nay vvel it may be call'd, / A deathleſſe tincture, ſent vs from the skies, / VVhoſe colour ſtands, vvhose gloſſe is ne're appalld, []
        2. A material essence thought to be capable of extraction from a substance.
          • 1671 December 17 (Gregorian calendar; indicated as 1672), Nehemiah Grew, “Of the Root”, in The Anatomy of Vegetables Begun. [], London: [] Spencer Hickman, printer to the R[oyal] Society, [], →OCLC, pages 52–53:
            [T]he pureſt part [of the sap], as moſt apt and ready, recedes, vvith its due Tinctures, from the ſaid Cortical Body, to the Lignous. VVhich Lignous Body likevviſe ſuper-inducing its ovvn proper Tinctures into the ſaid Sap; []
          • a. 1677 (date written), Matthew Hale, “Concerning Vegetables, and Especially Insecta Animalia, whether Any of Them are Sponte Orta, or Arise Not rather Ex Præexistente Semine”, in The Primitive Origination of Mankind, Considered and Examined According to the Light of Nature, London: [] William Godbid, for William Shrowsbery, [], published 1677, →OCLC, section III, page 267:
            And I do perſvvade my ſelf, that the common Devv exhaled from ſome ſorts of Herbs or VVeeds, but eſpecially from the common Graſs, carries vvith it the Seminal Tincture of the Herb, vvhich being again deſcended by Devvs or Rain upon the bare and naked Earth, re-produceth the ſame Species: []
      2. (chemistry) The part of a substance thought to be essential, finer, and/or more volatile, which could be extracted in a solution; also, the process of obtaining this.
        • 1610 (first performance), Ben[jamin] Jonson, The Alchemist, London: [] Thomas Snodham, for Walter Burre, and are to be sold by Iohn Stepneth, [], published 1612, →OCLC; reprinted Menston, Yorkshire: The Scolar Press, 1970, →OCLC, Act IV, scene i:
          [C]ome forth, / And taſt the ayre of Palaces, eate, drinke / The toyles of Empricks, and their boaſted practiſe: / Tincture of Pearle, an Corall, Gold, and Amber; []
        • 1625 January 19 (first performance; Gregorian calendar), [Ben Jonson], The Fortunate Isles and Their Union. [], [London: s.n.], published [1625], →OCLC, signature [A4], verso:
          VVhy, by his skill, / Of vvhich he has left you the inheritance, / Here in a pot: this little gally pot, / Of tincture, high roſe tincture.
        • 1707, J[ohn] Mortimer, “Some Further Observations Relating to Malt”, in The Whole Art of Husbandry; or, The Way of Managing and Improving of Land. [], 2nd edition, London: [] J[ohn] H[umphreys] for H[enry] Mortlock [], and J[onathan] Robinson [], published 1708, →OCLC, book IX, page 279:
          'Tis not unlikely that Grain may afford its Tincture, and that excellent Beer and Ale may be made thereof vvithout malting, but I ſhall leave theſe things to experience.

Derived terms edit

Related terms edit

Translations edit

Verb edit

tincture (third-person singular simple present tinctures, present participle tincturing, simple past and past participle tinctured)

  1. (transitive)
    1. (chiefly in past participle form) To colour or stain (something) with, or as if with, a dye or pigment.
      • 1634, T[homas] H[erbert], “A Discourse of the Life and Habit of the Persians at this Present”, in A Relation of Some Yeares Trauaile, Begunne Anno 1626. into Afrique and the Greater Asia, [], London: [] William Stansby, and Jacob Bloome, →OCLC, page 147:
        [T]hey are rich habilimented, their heads rounded vvith a golden caule: their cheekes tinctured vvith Vermillion, their noſes and eares hung vvith Ievvels of price and bigneſſe, and about their faces (tied to the chin) a rope of orient pearle of exceeding value, if not counterfeit: []
      • 1664, H[enry] More, chapter XV, in Synopsis Prophetica; or, The Second Part of the Modest Enquiry into the Mystery of Iniquity: [], London: [] James Flesher, for William Morden [], →OCLC, book I, page 310:
        [T]his very River Nilus that runs novv into the Mediterranean is the River that vvill run tinctured with bloud three hundred years hence, though the vvater is not the ſame novv and then nor of the ſame Quality: []
      • 1670 June 2 (Gregorian calendar), Edward Brown [i.e., Edward Browne], “An Accompt Given by Doctor Edward Brown, Concerning the Copper-mine at Herrn-ground in Hungary”, in Philosophical Transactions: Giving Some Accompt of the Present Undertakings, Studies and Labours of the Ingenious in Many Considerable Parts of the World, volume V, number 59, London: [] John Martyn []; printer to the Royal Society, →OCLC, pages 1046–1047:
        The VVater of theſe is like to that of Baden in Auſtria; it leaves a vvhite Sediment upon the Moſs and places it vvaſheth, and tinctureth metals black: []
      • c. 1806–1809 (date written), William Wordsworth, “Book the Seventh. The Churchyard among the Mountains Continued.”, in The Excursion, being a Portion of The Recluse, a Poem, London: [] Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, [], published 1814, →OCLC, pages 317–318:
        And a fair carpet, woven of home-spun wool, / But tinctured daintily with florid hues, / For seemliness and warmth, on festive days, / Covered the smooth blue slabs of mountain stone / With which the parlour-floor, in simplest guise / Of pastoral home-steads, had been long inlaid.
    2. (figuratively, chiefly in past participle form) Followed by with: to add to or impregnate (something) with (a slight amount of) an abstract or (obsolete) physical quality; to imbue, to taint, to tinge.
      • 1634 (first performance), Thomas Heywood, “Her Majestie Inviting the King to Denmarke house, in the Strand, upon His Birth-day, being November the 19. This Play (Bearing from that time) the Title of the Queens Masque, was Againe Presented before Him: Cupid Speaking the Prologue.”, in Loves Maistresse: Or, The Queens Masque. [], London: [] Robert Raworth, for Iohn Crowch; and are to bee sold by Iasper Emery, [], published 1636, →OCLC:
        Of fulgent beautie; but ſo pure a mind, / As if tinctur'd from Heaven, and ſo devin'd.
      • 1653, Jacob Behmen [i.e., Jakob Böhme], “A Theosophick Epistle, or Letter, wherein the Life of a True Christian is Described: []”, in [anonymous], transl., A Consideration upon the Book of Esaias Stiefel of the Threefold State of Man, and His New Birth. [], London: [] John Macock, →OCLC, paragraph 34, page 129:
        Chriſt dravveth my VVill into himſelf, and cloateth it vvith his Blood and Death, and tictureth it vvith the higheſt Tincture of the Divine Povver: Thus it is changed into an Angelical Image, and getteth a Divine Life.
      • 1668, Franciscus Euistor the Palæopolite [pseudonym; Henry More], “The Fifth Dialogue”, in Divine Dialogues, Containing Sundry Disquisitions & Instructions Concerning the Attributes of God and His Providence in the World. [], 2nd edition, London: [] Joseph Downing [], published 1713, →OCLC, paragraph XXXVIII, page 515:
        VVhile in the mean time there iſſued out on the Eaſt-ſide a ſtrong VVind, but pure and refreſhing, vvhich dividing into ſeveral parts that turned round became ſo many innocuous VVhirl-vvinds of ſincere Air, tinctured only vvith a cool refreſhing ſmell, as if it had paſſed over ſome large field of Lilies and Roſes.
      • 1671 December 17 (Gregorian calendar; indicated as 1672), Nehemiah Grew, “Of the Root”, in The Anatomy of Vegetables Begun. [], London: [] Spencer Hickman, printer to the R[oyal] Society, [], →OCLC, page 53:
        The remainder, [] thus retreats, that is, by the continual appulſe of the Sap, is in part carried off into the Cortical Body back again, the Sap vvhereof it novv tinctures into good Aliment: []
      • 1739, [David Hume], “Of the Direct Passions”, in A Treatise of Human Nature: [], London: [] John Noon, [], →OCLC; republished as L[ewis] A[mherst] Selby-Bigge, editor, A Treatise of Human Nature [], Oxford, Oxfordshire: Clarendon Press, 1896, →OCLC, book II (Of the Passions), part III (Of the Will and Direct Passions), page 443:
        The passions of fear and hope may arise when the chances are equal on both sides, and no superiority can be discover'd in the one above the other. Nay, in this situation the passions are rather the strongest, as the mind has then the least foundation to rest upon, and is toss'd with the greatest uncertainty. Throw in a superior degree of probability to the side of grief, you immediately see that passion diffuse itself over the composition, and tincture it into fear.
      • 1797–1807 (date written), William Blake, “Vala [Vala, or The Four Zoas]. Night the Seventh.”, in Edwin John Ellis and William Butler Yeats, editors, The Works of William Blake: Poetic, Symbolic, and Critical [], volume III, London: Bernard Quaritch, [], published 17 January 1893, →OCLC, page 81:
        And first he drew a line upon the walls of shining heaven, / And Enitharmon tinctured it with beams of blushing love.
      • 1820 December 24, Joseph Severn, “[Number] 85: Joseph Severn to John Taylor”, in Hyder Edward Rollins, editor, The Keats Circle: Letters and Papers 1816–1878, volume I, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, published 1948, →OCLC, page 181:
        Now observe my dear Sir I dont for a moment push my little but honest Religious faith upon poor [John] Keats—except as far as my feelings go—but these I try to keep from him— I fall into his views sometimes to quiet him and tincture them with a somewhat of mine— []
      • 1828, William Crawford, “The Fanciad”, in The Fates of Alceus; or, Love’s Knight Errant: An Amatory Poem, [], Paisley, Renfrewshire: [] J. Taylor, →OCLC, page 121:
        Thou tincturest bright Hebe's lonely walks, / Art with her as inspir'd with dread, she stalks / With pleasing dread, the sylvan maze, where dwell / Oft lowering gipsies of the wizard spell; []
      • 1863 May, T. I., “Catallus. Part I.”, in Dublin University Magazine, a Literary and Political Journal, volume LXI, number CCCLXV, Dublin: George Herbert, []; London: Hurst & Blackett, →OCLC, page 552, column 2:
        Oh, beauteous little pigeon, / Say whither art thou flying? / And whence hast gained the perfume / That from thy wings diffusing / Tincturest the air thou breathest?
        A translation of the Greek lyric poet Anacreon’s poem “Pigeon”.
      • 1888–1891, Herman Melville, “[Billy Budd, Foretopman.] Chapter X.”, in Billy Budd and Other Stories, London: John Lehmann, published 1951, →OCLC, page 254:
        As it is, one must turn to some authority not liable to the charge of being tinctured with the Biblical element.
      • 1982, Saul Bellow, “Him with His Foot in His Mouth”, in Him with His Foot in His Mouth and Other Stories, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Row, published 1984, →ISBN, page 11:
        Nor, I imagine, can librarians be great readers. They have too many books, most of them burdensome. The crowded shelves give off an inviting, consoling, seductive odor that is also tinctured faintly with something pernicious, with poison and doom.
    3. (pharmacy) To dissolve (a substance) in ethanol or some other solvent to produce a medicinal tincture.
      • 2011, Deb Soule, “Creating a Herbal Apothecary”, in The Woman’s Handbook of Herbal Healing: A Guide to Natural Remedies, New York, N.Y.: Skyhorse Publishing, →ISBN:
        Fill a glass jar full of plant matter, leaving an inch of space. (I prefer to tincture each herb separately and mix combinations as I need them.) Completely cover plants with 100-proof vodka, brandy, or vinegar and secure the lid tightly.
  2. (intransitive, rare) To have a taint or tinge of some quality.
    • 1787, Geoffrey Gambado [pseudonym; Henry William Bunbury], “The Editor to the Reader”, in An Academy for Grown Horsemen; [], 2nd edition, London: [] Hooper and Wigstead, [], published 1796, →OCLC, page xviii:
      The portrait of the Author, prefixed, is engraved from a drawing by another of his friends, done from memory; it is like, but a likeneſs that tinctures of the prejudice of friendſhip.
    • 1998, Nadine Gordimer, The House Gun, New York, N.Y.: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, →ISBN, page 212:
      Which one of the carefully chosen assessors, one white, one sufficiently tinctured to pass as black, was it who was speaking—both sat, either side of the judge, silent henchmen.

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

References edit

  1. ^ tinctūre, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ -ūre, suf.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  3. ^ tincture, n.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021; tincture, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  4. ^ tincture, v.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, June 2021; tincture, v.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading edit

Anagrams edit

Latin edit

Participle edit


  1. vocative masculine singular of tīnctūrus