en·​the·​o·​gen en-ˈthē-ə-jən How to pronounce entheogen (audio)
plural entheogens
: a psychoactive, hallucinogenic substance or preparation (such as psilocybin or ayahuasca) especially when derived from plants or fungi and used in religious, spiritual, or ritualistic contexts
Entheogen is a neologism to designate psychoactive substances employed in culturally sanctioned visionary experiences in ritual or religious contexts.Carl A. P. Ruck
Scholars of religion often call them entheogens, from the term "god within."Jeremiah Creedon
entheogenic adjective
A recent resolution by Santa Cruz City Council has made the municipality the third in the U.S. to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms. The unanimous ruling makes the personal possession and use of so-called entheogenic plants and fungi … a low priority for law enforcement. David E. Carpenter
an entheogenic plant/tea/substance

Examples of entheogen in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Cannabis can be categorized as an entheogen if that lies within your belief system — the Divine within, good for prayer and meditation. Philip Wolf, Rolling Stone, 26 Oct. 2023 However, there are many other types of entheogens including peyote, ayahuasca and iboga. Marina Johnson, Detroit Free Press, 11 Sep. 2023 In recent years, as American interest in psychedelics has risen, the use of psychoactive plants traditionally employed in spiritual practices—or entheogens—has soared. Sierra Crane Murdoch, Harper's Magazine, 3 May 2023 Under the influence For the record, when people use a hallucinogen as part of a religious or spiritual ritual (as opposed to just for fun), anthropologists call the substance an entheogen. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, 24 Nov. 2020 Although there is one entheogen that is getting more and more popular by the day: good old cannabis. Javier Hasse, Forbes, 17 June 2022 Professionals in the industry regard the cannabis plant as an entheogen or a psychoactive substance used for various purposes. Amanda Reiman, Rolling Stone, 10 Dec. 2021 The San Francisco Police have not laid out a specific policy regarding entheogen use, KPIX-TV reported. Zoe Sottile, CNN, 10 Sep. 2022 An entheogen is a psychoactive substance that has been historically used in spiritual contexts. Louis Metzger Iv, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2022

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

Word History


Greek éntheos "possessed by a god, inspired" + -o- + -gen, after hallucinogen — more at enthusiasm

Note: The word was introduced in Carl A. P. Ruck et al., "Entheogens," Journal of Psychedelic Drugs, vol. 11 (1979), issue 1-2, pp. 145-46; the authors' intent was to avoid the perceived negative associations of hallucinogen and psychedelic.

First Known Use

1979, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of entheogen was in 1979

Dictionary Entries Near entheogen

Cite this Entry

“Entheogen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entheogen. Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

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