gateway drug


Definition of gateway drug

: a drug (such as alcohol or marijuana) whose use is thought to lead to the use of and dependence on a harder drug (such as cocaine or heroin)

Examples of gateway drug in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The tender white fish is like a gateway drug to cooking with other types of fish. Audrey Bruno, SELF, "19 Simple and Delicious Ways to Cook With Tilapia," 18 Sep. 2018 Even as users sue the manufacturer for getting them hooked on nicotine, vapes are increasingly the gateway drug of choice. Angela Chen, The Verge, "Teens are turning away from cigarettes and alcohol and toward vaping," 17 Dec. 2018 My wife thinks the experience will be my gateway drug. Mike Kerrigan, WSJ, "Bear With Me? Get It Away!," 26 July 2018 But in the movie, that act is merely a gateway drug to the full-on loopiness that follows. Vann R. Newkirk Ii, The Atlantic, "Sorry to Bother You Is a Dystopian Send-Up of Dystopias," 13 July 2018 This is gateway drug comedy, low commitment and easygoing. Rebecca Farley,, "Your Handy Guide To Netflix's Newest Most Bingeable Show," 3 July 2018 This is a miss to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who last year called marijuana a gateway drug. Fox News, "Trump escalates trade war tensions with tariff threat," 24 June 2018 The ban stemmed from a fear that pinball was somehow a gateway drug to a life of crime. Ryan Smith, Chicago Reader, "News / Technology / The Internet Video games are public enemy #1 . . . again," 19 June 2018 At a congressional hearing in 2007, a United States attorney was grilled about the Justice Department’s settlement earlier that year with the company over its prescription painkiller, which had become the gateway drug to America’s opioid epidemic. Barry Meier, Time, "Why Drug Company Executives Haven’t Really Seen Justice for Their Role in the Opioid Crisis," 15 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of gateway drug

1981, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gateway drug

Dictionary Entries near gateway drug




gateway drug




Statistics for gateway drug

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gateway drug

The first known use of gateway drug was in 1981

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for gateway drug

gateway drug


English Language Learners Definition of gateway drug

: a drug (such as alcohol or marijuana) that is thought to lead to the use of more dangerous drugs (such as cocaine or heroin)

gateway drug

gate·​way drug | \ ˈgāt-ˌwā- How to pronounce gateway drug (audio) \

Medical Definition of gateway drug

: a drug (such as alcohol or marijuana) whose use is thought to lead to the use of and dependence on more dangerous, addicting substances (such as cocaine or heroin) To end at the beginning, nicotine … is now considered a "gateway drug," as it commonly precedes and is comorbid with other substance use.— Donald A. Henderson, The Journal of the American Medical Association, 9 June 1999

More from Merriam-Webster on gateway drug

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gateway drug

Comments on gateway drug

What made you want to look up gateway drug? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to mark by some ceremony or observation

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!