This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Word To Use Today: tonic.

Do you need a tonic?

Are you in need of a pick-me-up? A medicine, a new dress, or a day at the seaside?

Perhaps the tonic you long for most is tonic water, which is fizzy water flavoured with quinine. Tonic water is most often used for making gin last longer, though it also makes a good tempura batter for elderflower fritters.

A tonic can also be the stressed bit of a word. It's the TON bit of tonic, for example.

Then there's what musicians call the tonic, which is nothing to do with feeling livelier but instead, oddly, to do with not wanting to move at all.

For instance, if you start to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (no, no, it's all right, it's not as if you're ever going to see any of those people on the train again, is it?) but you stop singing just before giving voice to the last note, you'll find you're left with a strong on-the-edge-of-a-cliff feeling, and you'll have a powerful desire to sing the last note to get back your sense of being on firm land. That last "back-on-firm-ground" note is the tonic note of your (I'm sure splendid) rendition.

Tonic sol-fa is a way of learning to sing. It's explained here:

And could we find a better tonic to cheer us up?

I'm not sure we could.

Word To Use Today: tonic. This word comes from the Greek word tonos, tension, from teinein, to stretch.


  1. Elderflower fritters?
    Sounds like I've been missing out on some culinary delight!

    I usually watch The Sound of Music once a year, at Christmas time, as that is when it's on the telly - still haven't worked out why they show it then though. Perhaps because it's a family movie? No matter, I still enjoy it.

    I think a wonderful tonic right now would be a bright sunshiny day!
    Ah, a girl can dream!

    1. In England they show The Great Escape at Christmas. You know, the one where the goodies all get machine-gunned.
      But, yes, here we are choking on Saharan dust at the moment, so a sight of the sun would be very cheering.

  2. G&T is one of my favourite drinks, but my wife says it's depressing. I've no idea what she's talking about.

  3. Apparently if you drink six pints of tonic water a day for twelve years it gives you sticky blood, a condition usually only found in malaria zones.
    But that's only if you survive the industrial quantities of gin.