Having a greater degree of tone or tension.

Having a higher osmotic pressure in a fluid relative to another fluid.

Of or pertaining to a solution (e.g. extracelllular fluid) with higher solute concentration compared with another. (see: hypotonic, isotonic). For example, if the extracellular fluid has greater amounts of solutes than the cytoplasm, the extracellular fluid is said to be hypertonic.


A cell placed in a highly concentrated solution will result in the water molecules diffusing out of the cell. Eventually, the cell will shrink. It should be noted, however, that not all cells in a hypertonic solution will shrink. The cells have ways to circumvent hypertonicity (see osmoregulation).

Related forms: hypertonicity (noun).
Compare: hypotonic, isotonic.
See also: tonicity, osmotic pressure, solution, solute, concentration gradient.

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