noun (used with a singular verb)
the cultivation of plants by placing the roots in liquid nutrient solutions rather than in soil; soilless growth of plants. Compare aeroculture, geoponics ( def 2 ).

1935–40; hydro-1 + (geo)ponics

hydroponic, adjective
hydroponically, adverb
hydroponist [hahy-drop-uh-nist] , hydroponicist, noun
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World English Dictionary
hydroponics (ˌhaɪdrəʊˈpɒnɪks)
(functioning as singular) Also called: aquiculture a method of cultivating plants by growing them in gravel, etc, through which water containing dissolved inorganic nutrient salts is pumped
[C20: from hydro- + (geo)ponics]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1937, formed in Eng. from hydro-, comb. form of Gk. hydor "water" (see water (n.1)) + -ponics, from Gk. ponein "to labor, toil," from ponos "labor" (see span (v.)).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
hydroponics   (hī'drə-pŏn'ĭks)  Pronunciation Key 
The cultivation of plants in a nutrient-rich solution, rather than in soil, and under controlled conditions of light, temperature, and humidity. Also called aquaculture.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
hydroponics [(heye-druh-pon-iks)]

Cultivating plants in an artificial environment in which the necessary nutrients are carried to the roots in a liquid mixture.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
In practice, the nearest thing to a vertical farm so far is urban hydroponic
  farming, often on rooftops.
Today, new advances such as genetic engineering and hydroponic farming promise
  further boosts.
Source may mean hydroponic growing of marijuana or production of
  methamphetamines, ecstasy and other designer drugs.
He cultivates dope in mineral-water solutions-he's a hydroponic felon-and his
  weed packs a wallop.
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