ad·​dic·​tion | \ ə-ˈdik-shən , a-\

Definition of addiction

1 : the quality or state of being addicted addiction to reading
2 : compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful

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Synonyms for addiction


dependence (also dependance), habit, jones [slang], monkey

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Examples of addiction in a Sentence

He has a drug addiction. His life has been ruined by heroin addiction. He devotes his summers to his surfing addiction.
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Recent Examples on the Web

This week, Sheff and Tim spent some time on the road, answering audience questions at screenings and shining a light on the dangers of addiction. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "This Week in Timothée Chalamet, November 2 Edition," 2 Nov. 2018 Stress and anxiety recently overtook relationship problems as the No. 2 issue, outpacing such issues as child-behavior problems and drug or alcohol addiction. Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, "The Benefits (and Risks) of the Mental-Health Day," 17 Dec. 2018 Lovato has previously opened up about her struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Demi Lovato’s ex Wilmer Valderrama is reportedly ‘shocked’ as ex Joe Jonas asks fans for prayers," 2 Oct. 2018 Demi Lovato has always been very outspoken, using her experiences with mental health and addiction to help others dealing with the same hardships. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "9 Demi Lovato Quotes on Mental Health, Addiction and Sobriety," 25 July 2018 Chief among her short-term goals is addressing the city’s homelessness population, particularly those struggling with mental health problems and drug addiction. Dominic Fracassa,, "SF Mayor-elect London Breed says she wants to move quickly, look to future," 8 July 2018 Yet there remains a stigma against treating drug addiction with drugs on the part of some patients, family, and even health-care providers. Rita Giordano,, "Could marijuana help treat opioid addiction? Pennsylvania may soon find out," 6 July 2018 Putnam has repeatedly said NICS checks are used for non-criminal disqualifying histories, like a mental health issue, a dishonorable discharge from the military or a drug addiction. Steve Contorno, miamiherald, "New information shows deeper problems with bungled concealed-weapon background checks," 6 July 2018 San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a $6.27 billion budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year that includes added funding for mental health and addiction services, as well as other homelessness prevention practices. City News Service, Ramona Sentinel, "Supervisors approve $6 billion budget that bolsters mental health services," 27 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'addiction.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of addiction

circa 1532, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for addiction

earlier, "inclination, bent," in part derivative of addict entry 1, in part borrowed from Latin addictiōn-, addictiō "adjudging (of disputed property), assignment of a debtor to the custody of his creditor," from addīcere "to assign (property), hand over, give up to" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of action nouns — more at addict entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near addiction







adding machine

Statistics for addiction

Last Updated

5 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for addiction

The first known use of addiction was circa 1532

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More Definitions for addiction



English Language Learners Definition of addiction

: a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble)
: an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something


ad·​dic·​tion | \ ə-ˈdik-shən \

Medical Definition of addiction

: compulsive physiological need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be physically, psychologically, or socially harmful — compare habituation


ad·​dic·​tion | \ ə-ˈdik-shən \

Legal Definition of addiction

: compulsive physiological need for a habit-forming drug (as heroin)

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Comments on addiction

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