Middle English, from Latin, from Greek opion, from diminutive of opos sap
First Known Use: 14th century
Medical Definition of OPIUM
: a highly addictive drug that consists of the dried milky juice from the seed capsules of the opium poppy obtained from incisions made in the unripe capsules of the plant, that has a brownish yellow color, a faint smell, and a bitter and acrid taste, that is a stimulant narcotic usually producing a feeling of well-being, hallucinations, and drowsiness terminating in coma or death if the dose is excessive, that was formerly used in medicine to soothe pain but is now often replaced by derivative alkaloids (as morphine or codeine) or synthetic substitutes, and that is smoked illicitly as an intoxicant with harmful effects
Organic compound, a narcotic drug known since ancient Greek times, obtained from exuded juice of immature fruit capsules of the opium poppy. Opium has legitimate medical uses, as the source of the alkaloidscodeine and morphine and their derivatives. It is also used illicitly, either raw or purified as alkaloids and their derivatives (including heroin). Opium alkaloids of one type (e.g., morphine, codeine) act on the nervous system, mimicking the effects of endorphins; they are analgesic, narcotic, and potentially addicting (seedrug addiction). Those of a second type, including papaverine and noscapine, relieve smooth muscle spasms and are not analgesic, narcotic, or addicting. Habitual opium use produces physical and mental deterioration and shortens life. Overdose can cause death by depressing respiration.