AskDefine | Define potion

Dictionary Definition

potion n : a medicinal or magical or poisonous beverage

User Contributed Dictionary



Latin potio, from potare, “to drink”.



  1. a small portion or dose of a liquid which is medicinal, poisonous, or magical
    He hoped to win the princess’s heart by mixing the love potion the witch gave him into her drink.


Extensive Definition

A potion (from latin potionis, meaning beverage, potion, poison) is a consumable medicine or poison, usually possessing magical properties.
In legend, a potion is a concoction used to heal, bewitch or poison people, made by a magician, sorcerer or witch. E.g. Love potions make a person fall in love with another (The love potion figures tragically into most versions of the tale of Tristan and Iseult, including Richard Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde); sleeping potions cause a person to fall asleep (in folklore, this can range from normal sleep to a deathlike trance); and Elixirs are potions which heal/cure any wound/malady (as in C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe).
Creation of potions of different kinds was a common practice of alchemy.
During the 19th Century it was common in certain countries to see wandering charlatans offering potions to heal every disease, ache, etc. These eventually gained reputations as quack medicines. In later years, these became replaced by/known as patent medicines.
Potions have been used in literature many times. For example in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Henry Jekyll uses a potion to transform into the monstrous Hyde.
In modern fantasy, potions are often used as spells in liquid form. Commonly fantasy uses for potions are healing, amnesia, transformation, love spells, invisibility, and invulnerability. In the Asterix series, the Magic Potion gives the drinker superhuman strength. In Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept series, the Yellow Adept's power lies in her ability to make potions. In the Harry Potter book series, Severus Snape is known as the "Potions Master". He is one of the main characters of the novel. Portrayed as an antagonist that is more than meets the eye, potions class is shown as a magical chemistry class. Potions have been known as evil and are used classically by witches gathering around a boiling cauldron ex. Macbeth.
Potions have also gained popularity as a standard item in computer role playing games, usually as a healing item. The availability of healing potions in the popular Final Fantasy series of games, where one of them usually recovers hit-points (often with several different names for varying potions), eventually resulted in the release of an actual beverage named "Potion" in Japan by Square Enix, the creators of Final Fantasy.
A philter or philtre (from Ancient Greek φίλτρον meaning 'love potion') is a magical charm, usually a potion, that is said to have the power to cause its imbiber to fall in love with the person who gave it to them.

See also


External links

potion in Bulgarian: Отвара
potion in German: Zaubertrank
potion in Spanish: Poción
potion in French: Potion
potion in Dutch: Toverdrank
potion in Japanese: ポーション
potion in Russian: Эликсир (лекарственная форма)
potion in Swedish: Trolldryck
potion in Turkish: İksir

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

bag, bang, beverage, booster, booster dose, booster shot, brew, concoction, cup, deck, decoction, dose, draft, dram, draught, drench, drink, drop, dropping, drug packet, elixir, fix, gargle, guzzle, hit, injection, jigger, jolt, libation, mainlining, narcotic shot, nip, overdose, peg, popping, portion, potation, pull, round, round of drinks, shot, sip, skin-popping, snifter, snort, spot, suck, sup, swig, swill, tonic, wet
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