AskDefine | Define decoction

Dictionary Definition

decoction n : (pharmacology) the extraction by boiling of water-soluble drug substances

User Contributed Dictionary



From décoction or decoctio (decoct-, past participle stem of decoquere ‘boil down’, from de + coquere ‘cook’).


  • IPA: /dɪ'kɒkʃən/


  1. an extraction or essence of something, obtained by boiling it down
    • 1993, Anthony Burgess, A Dead Man In Deptford
      Poley offered a hot decoction of blackberries, saying: Peace?
    • 1994, Jeanette Winterson, Art & Lies
      Witches and devils no longer threaten you and me. We don’t mind living next door to the harmless lady with her herb garden and decoction still, her black cat and red hair.

Related terms


an extraction or essence

Extensive Definition

A decoction is a method of extraction of herbal or plant material, which includes, but is not limited to: Stems, roots, bark, and rhizomes.
Some teas are decoctions. Likewise, the term is used colloquially in South India to refer to black coffee prepared by the traditional method. Decoctions, however, differ from most teas, infusions, or tisanes, in that decoctions are usually boiled.
Decoction mashing is the traditional method used in many German breweries. It was used out of necessity before the invention of thermometers allowed simpler step mashing. But the practice continues for many traditional beers because of the unique malty flavor it lends to the beer. This is the result of Maillard reactions while boiling part of the grain.


Decoction involves first mashing, and then boiled in water to extract oils, volatile organic compounds, and other chemical substances.

In herbalism

In herbalism, decoctions are usually made to extract fluids from hard plant materials such as roots and bark. To achieve this, the plant material is is usually boiled for 8-10 minutes in water. It is then sifted.
decoction in German: Dekokt
decoction in Esperanto: Dekoktado
decoction in French: Décoction
decoction in Italian: Decotto
decoction in Japanese: 煎じ薬
decoction in Portuguese: Decocção
decoction in Slovenian: Prevretek

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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