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

Example Sentences

Ecstasy is a designer drug.
Recent Examples on the Web 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 Kalfas said the appearance of isotonitazene and other, similar designer drugs shows why the epidemic cannot be fought by eliminating any one drug, but rather needs to be addressed by emphasizing treatment, prevention and harm reduction. Terry Demio, USA TODAY, 18 May 2020 Kalfas said the appearance of isotonitazene and other, similar designer drugs shows why the epidemic cannot be fought by eliminating any one drug, but rather needs to be addressed by emphasizing treatment, prevention and harm reduction. Terry Demio, Cincinnati.com, 18 May 2020 Brought in from the black-market wilderness by deep-pocketed, consumer-savvy companies, cannabis may become just another designer drug. New York Times, 1 Apr. 2020 According to this line of thinking, NBA players possess the financial wherewithal and career incentives to pay for designer drugs that evade detection, particularly when those drugs are taken in small dosages. Michael Mccann, SI.com, 29 Aug. 2019 The market often moves faster than the regulator, and a combination of sophisticated designer drugs, masking agents and microdosing probably could outsmart even the most scrutinizing test. Michael Mccann, SI.com, 29 Aug. 2019 See More

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

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 4 Feb. 2023.

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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