tropic

1 of 4

noun

trop·​ic ˈträ-pik How to pronounce tropic (audio)
1
: either of the two parallels of terrestrial latitude at a distance of about 23¹/₂ degrees north or south of the equator where the sun is directly overhead when it reaches its most northerly or southerly point in the sky compare tropic of cancer, tropic of capricorn
2
tropics or Tropics plural : the region lying between the tropics

tropic

2 of 4

adjective (1)

: of, relating to, or occurring in the tropics

tropic

3 of 4

adjective (2)

tro·​pic ˈtrō-pik How to pronounce tropic (audio)
1
: of, relating to, or characteristic of tropism or of a tropism
2
of a hormone : influencing the activity of a specified gland

-tropic

4 of 4

adjective combining form

1
: turning, changing, or tending to turn or change in a (specified) manner or in response to a (specified) stimulus
geotropic
2
: attracted to or acting upon (something specified)
neurotropic

Examples of tropic in a Sentence

Noun a vacation in the tropics
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
That's another sign that the main development region of the Atlantic tropics is heating up way ahead of schedule this year. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 2 July 2024 Plants & Animals Plant of the Month: Hibiscus Nearly synonymous with the global tropics and subtropics, hibiscus symbolizes the Caribbean’s transnational past, present, and future. JSTOR Daily, 24 June 2024 Volcanoes are everywhere—found across tundras, islands, tropics. Charlie Hobbs, Condé Nast Traveler, 3 Mar. 2023 Instead, the researchers say, mid-Cretaceous Alaskan climates were warmer, rich in groundwater and more reminiscent of today’s tropics than the Arctic, at least in terms of rainfall. Christian Thorsberg, Smithsonian Magazine, 20 Mar. 2024 The eels have been recorded from Indonesia to Fiji, and they have also been known to inhabit the wet tropics of Australia, scientists said. Moira Ritter, Miami Herald, 1 Mar. 2024 So if the Atlantic tropics are a bathtub capable of supporting major hurricanes, where are the storms? Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 1 Aug. 2023 Last week, a long, narrow section of the Earth’s atmosphere funneled trillions of gallons of water eastward from the Pacific tropics and unleashed it on California. Zoya Teirstein, WIRED, 17 Feb. 2024 Anyone who lives in the mid-latitudes or tropics on Earth can see the station from time to time. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 18 Jan. 2024
Adjective
After a total of nine hours under the waves, two men with chattering teeth were able to emerge from their frigid craft into bright sunshine, blue skies and tropic heat. William J. Broad, New York Times, 18 Nov. 2023 For long hours Monday, gray clouds seemed to presage rain, and the damp air seemed to enhance the sultry sense of tropic life. Martin Weil, Washington Post, 4 July 2023 The engine that powers every tropic cyclone is convection: enormous volumes of moist, rising air create a vacuum at the surface that sucks in surrounding air as spiraling winds. Martin J. Kernan, Scientific American, 1 June 2023 Here the lemon and orange grow to perfection and almost all of the fruits and vegetables of the temperate and semi-tropic climes flourish, while experiments made by some of our growers show that the banana, pineapple and other tropical fruits will do well. San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 Feb. 2023 The underlying justification for their mastery of this bountiful, beautiful semi-tropic place was the conviction that their predecessors — native Americans, Spanish, Mexican — were unappreciative and undeserving, unlike the grateful and energetic Yankee. Los Angeles Times, 11 Jan. 2022 Recent research reveals more variety in this creature, which can be found in tropic locations around the world. David Kindy, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 July 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tropic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English tropik, borrowed from Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French tropike, tropique, borrowed from Late Latin tropicus (short for tropicus circulus), noun derivative of Latin tropicus "of a solstice or equinox," borrowed from Greek tropikós, from tropḗ "turn, change, solstitial point" (noun derivative from the base of trépein "to turn") + -ikos -ic entry 1 — more at trope

Adjective (1)

borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French tropike, tropique "of the sun's change of direction at the solstice, of either of the two tropics," borrowed from Latin tropicus "of a solstice or equinox" — more at tropic entry 1

Adjective (2)

generalization of -tropic, after German tropisch

Adjective combining form

French -tropique, from Greek -tropos -tropous

First Known Use

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective (1)

1624, in the meaning defined above

Adjective (2)

1899, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of tropic was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near tropic

Cite this Entry

“Tropic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tropic. Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

tropic

1 of 3 noun
trop·​ic ˈträp-ik How to pronounce tropic (audio)
1
: either of the two parallels of the earth's latitude that are approximately 23½ degrees north of the equator and approximately 23½ degrees south of the equator
2
plural often capitalized : the region lying between the two tropics

tropic

2 of 3 adjective

tropic

3 of 3 adjective
tro·​pic ˈtrō-pik How to pronounce tropic (audio)
: of, relating to, or being a tropism
a tropic movement of a plant
Etymology

Noun

Middle English tropik (noun) "either of the points at which the sun appears furthest from the equator," from Latin tropicus (adjective) "of a solstice or equinox," from Greek tropikos (same meaning), from tropē "turn"; so called because a tropic marks the turning point in the sun's apparent path up the sky

Medical Definition

tropic

adjective
tro·​pic ˈtrō-pik How to pronounce tropic (audio)
1
: of, relating to, or characteristic of tropism or of a tropism
2
of a hormone : influencing the activity of a specified gland
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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