designer drug

noun

1
: a synthetic version of a controlled substance (such as heroin) that is produced with a slightly altered molecular structure to avoid having it classified as an illicit drug
2
: a synthetic, therapeutic agent designed to have a highly selective mode of action so that effectiveness is maximized and side effects are minimized compared with existing therapies

Examples of designer drug in a Sentence

Ecstasy is a designer drug.
Recent Examples on the Web That’s the driving force behind Synchronic, a movie in which a paramedic (Anthony Mackie) gets enmeshed in a mystery surrounding several people dying or being driven insane by an exotic new designer drug. Chris Snellgrove, EW.com, 2 Apr. 2024 The kids treat it like a designer drug, filming their hallucinatory freak-outs on their phones. Will Bedingfield, WIRED, 21 Dec. 2023 Tommy and Claudia’s partnership to distribute the designer drug Dahlia never felt authentic, especially since there was very little trust between them. Aramide Tinubu, Variety, 31 Aug. 2023 Meanwhile, 12 of 15 samples sold as Adderall tested positive for other substances, including methamphetamine and, in one case, MDMA, the designer drug commonly known as ecstasy. Keri Blakinger, Los Angeles Times, 20 June 2023 Kratom is legal everywhere in Florida except Sarasota County, which banned the substance in 2014 after labeling it a designer drug. Helen Freund and Kirby Wilson, Sun Sentinel, 6 Mar. 2023 While assays exist for the currently illicit substance, the same test may not be able to identify a related designer drug. Simon Hadlington, Scientific American, 19 June 2014 This isn’t some designer drug that racing authorities haven’t seen yet or snake venom bought on the black market. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, 9 May 2021 Police seized about 480 pounds of white crystals infused with the designer drug MDMA from a room used by the two, the AP quoted the newspaper as reporting. Anna Fifield, Washington Post, 7 Aug. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'designer drug.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1983, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of designer drug was in 1983

Dictionary Entries Near designer drug

Cite this Entry

“Designer drug.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/designer%20drug. Accessed 20 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition

designer drug

noun
de·​sign·​er drug di-ˌzī-nər- How to pronounce designer drug (audio)
1
: a synthetic version of a controlled substance (such as heroin) that is produced with a slightly altered molecular structure to avoid classification as an illicit drug
Los Angeles County health officials warned Tuesday against the use of bath salts—the designer drug involved in a series of bizarre incidents and arrests …Wesley Lowery, The Los Angeles Times
… the firm is involved in the illegal production and sale of MDMA, a designer drug commonly known as "ecstasy."Time
2
: a synthetic, therapeutic agent designed to have a highly selective mode of action so that effectiveness is maximized and side effects are minimized compared with existing therapies
In contrast to past trial-and-error discovery, we are starting to see designer drugs that target known sites on molecules implicated in disease.Nathaniel C. Comfort, The New York Times Book Review
Results of another dramatic prevention study zeroed in on raloxifene, a chemical cousin of tamoxifen, and one of the first so-called estrogen designer drugs.Patricia Guthrie, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Legal Definition

designer drug

noun
de·​sign·​er drug
: a synthetic version of a controlled substance (as heroin) that is produced with a slightly altered molecular structure to avoid having it classified as an illegal drug

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