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[toh-nuh s] /ˈtoʊ nəs/
noun, Physiology
a normal state of continuous slight tension in muscle tissue that facilitates its response to stimulation.
Origin of tonus
1875-80; < New Latin, special use of Latin tonus < Greek tónos tone Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for tonus
Historical Examples
  • And, of course, one should feel something if it is no more than the tonus of muscle against the mobile bones.

    Instinct George Oliver Smith
  • This tonus is essential to the maintenance of an equalized circulation.

    Arteriosclerosis and Hypertension: Louis Marshall Warfield
  • The tonus of the muscles at the moment of examination may create differences inappreciable during relaxation.

British Dictionary definitions for tonus


(physiol) the normal tension of a muscle at rest; tone
Word Origin
C19: from Latin, from Greek tonostone
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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tonus in Medicine

tonus to·nus (tō'nəs)
Body or muscular tone; tonicity.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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