marijuana

noun

mar·​i·​jua·​na ˌmer-ə-ˈwä-nə How to pronounce marijuana (audio)
ˌma-rə-,
 also  -ˈhwä-
variants or less commonly marihuana
1
: the psychoactive dried resinous flower buds and leaves of the female hemp or cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa or C. indica) that contain high levels of THC and are smoked, vaped, or ingested (as in baked goods) especially for their intoxicating effect : cannabis

Note: Several substances (such as cannabidiol) lacking psychoactive properties are extracted from the flower buds of marijuana and are used medicinally.

compare bhang, hashish see also medical marijuana
2

Examples of marijuana in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web More than 25 pounds or more than 100 marijuana plants with intent to distribute — Felony with a minimum fine of $15,000 and at least five years incarcerated. Shaun Goodwin, Idaho Statesman, 22 Feb. 2024 Authorities seized around 100 marijuana plants from the sales room. Brittny Mejia, Los Angeles Times, 31 Jan. 2024 Some research comparing marijuana cigarettes containing THC (the psychoactive substance in cannabis) to a THC-free placebo found that smoking marijuana with THC led to significantly more symptom improvements. Markham Heid, TIME, 9 Feb. 2024 The increase in marijuana consumption and awareness of the health effects of alcohol are also likely factors in the weaking dependence on alcohol. Chloe Berger, Fortune, 3 Feb. 2024 Jones didn’t say how many arrests police have made for low-level marijuana possession during the same period. Aaron Leibowitz, Miami Herald, 1 Feb. 2024 Sensing that Youngkin is itching to claim a legacy-defining economic development win, some Democrats are going to press for deals in other areas, such as toll relief in Hampton Roads and progress in setting up the state’s legal marijuana market, which has been mired in legislative limbo. Laura Vozzella, Washington Post, 14 Jan. 2024 The state’s biannual surveys of high school and middle school students have found largely stable 30-day marijuana usage patterns, with a decrease in 2021 during the pandemic. John Aguilar, Hartford Courant, 4 Jan. 2024 Taylor is already serving a 21-month sentence on federal convictions related to owning the gun while using drugs and lying about her marijuana use during a background check for the purchase of the weapon. Justin Jouvenal, Washington Post, 15 Dec. 2023 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

borrowed from Mexican Spanish mariguana, marihuana, of uncertain origin

Note: The etymology of Mexican Spanish mariguana, marihuana remains elusive despite much hypothesizing. The first known attestation of the word is in a pharmacopoeia compiled by the newly founded Mexican pharmaceutical academy (Farmacopea mexicana formada y publicada por la Academia Farmacéutica de la Capital de la República, México, 1846); in the text mariguana is a cross-reference to Rosa María, defined as "cáñamo del pais.—Canavis indicus. Hojas. Narcótico" ("country hemp.—Canavis [i.e., Cannabis] indicus. Leaves. Narcotic") (p. 41). The word reappears in the Lecciones de farmacología (Guadalajara, 1853) by Leonardo Oliva (1814-72), chair of pharmacology at the University of Guadalajara. Oliva alludes to the consumption of the plant ("Las hojas fumadas como lo hacen los Hotentotes segun Sparrman i como tambíen lo hacen algunos mejicanos, producen embriaguez é ilusiones sin acarrear la irritacion gastrica, ni otros efectos que ocasionan los alcoholicos …" – "The leaves when smoked, as the Hottentots do according to Sparrman and as certain Mexicans do, produce intoxication and illusions without resulting in the gastric irritation and other side-effects caused by alcoholic drinks …"). Oliva may also have been the first writer to speculate on the origin of the word: "Marihuana…Planta … cuyo nombre acaso está formado de la voz Mari significando Maria i la palabra Huana significando Rosa, ignoro á que idioma pertenece: será planta que como otras muchas pasó á Mejico del Asia antes de la conquista, como parece demostrarlo en cierto modo su nombre americanizado?" ("Marihuana …A plant … whose name is perhaps formed from the word Mari, meaning Maria, and the word Huana, meaning Rosa, from which language I don't know: may it be a plant that like many others passed from Asia to Mexico before the Conquest, which in some way is demonstrated by its Americanized name?") (tomo 1, pp. 200-02). Folk practices relating to marijuana, attributed to the Indians around San Juan del Río, Querétaro, are described by José María Villa, a friend and correspondent of the Mexican author and politician Guillermo Prieto, through quotes in Prieto's Viajes de orden suprema (México, 1857), an account of travels around Mexico (pp. 428-29). (A paraphrase of this passage in "Wild Tribes of Mexico," a chapter of Hubert Howe Bancroft's The Native Races of the Pacific States of North America, vol. 1 [New York, 1874/75], p. 633, contains probably the first incidence of mariguana in English.) The word was also familiar to the Norwegian traveler Carl Lumholtz, who visited Mexico in the 1890's and noted it in his book Unknown Mexico (vol. 2, New York: 1902): "A form of common hemp called mariguana or rosa maria (Cannabis sativa) sometimes takes the place of hikuli [a Huichol name for the peyote cactus]. The leaves of this injurious narcotic are smoked throughout Mexico, but mostly by criminals and the depraved" (p. 125). Note that the form marijuana is not recorded in Spanish before its use in English in the early twentieth century, so that the hypothesis that the origin of all the forms is a contraction of the compound name María Juana is not supported—in the first 60-70 years of the word's presence in print in Spanish the only attested spellings are mariguana and marihuana. For this observation and other theories about the word, see Isaac Campos, Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico's War on Drugs (University of North Carolina Press, 2012), pp. 67-77.

First Known Use

1874, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of marijuana was in 1874

Dictionary Entries Near marijuana

Cite this Entry

“Marijuana.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/marijuana. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

marijuana

noun
mar·​i·​jua·​na
variants also marihuana
ˌmar-ə-ˈwän-ə How to pronounce marijuana (audio)
 also  -ˈhwän-
: any of various preparations of the dried leaves and flowering tops of the female hemp plant that are used as a drug usually illegally especially by smoking

Medical Definition

marijuana

noun
mar·​i·​jua·​na
variants also marihuana
ˌmar-ə-ˈwän-ə also -ˈhwän-
1
: the psychoactive dried resinous flower buds and leaves of the female hemp or cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa or C. indica) that contain high levels of THC and are smoked, vaped, or ingested (as in baked goods) especially for their intoxicating effect : cannabis

Note: Several substances (as cannabidiol) lacking psychoactive properties are extracted from the flower buds of marijuana and are used medicinally.

compare bhang, hashish see also medical marijuana
2

More from Merriam-Webster on marijuana

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