officinal

adjective

of·​fi·​ci·​nal ə-ˈfi-sə-nᵊl How to pronounce officinal (audio)
ȯ-,
ä-;
ˌȯ-fə-ˈsī-nᵊl How to pronounce officinal (audio)
ˌä-
: medicinal
a monograph on officinal flora

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Officinal is a word applied in medicine to plants and herbs that are used in medicinal preparations. For most of the 19th century, it was the standard word used by the United States Pharmacopeia to refer to the drugs, chemicals, and medicinal preparations that they recognized, but by the 1870s it was replaced by official in this context. Despite this supersession, you still can find a healthy dose of officinal in the pharmaceutical field, where it is used today as a word describing preparations that are regularly kept in stock at pharmacies. Officinal was derived from the Medieval Latin noun officina, a word for the storeroom of a monastery in which provisions and medicines were kept. In Latin, officina means "workshop."

Example Sentences

the discovery of officinal plants that continues to this day

Word History

Etymology

borrowed from New Latin officīnālis "used as a medicine (of plants)," from officīna "apothecary's shop" (going back to Latin, "workshop," contraction of opificīna, from opific-, opifex "craftsman, artificer" —from opi-, base of opis, *ops "power, ability" and oper-, opus "work, effort" + -fic-, -fex, derivative of facere "to make, do, bring about"— + -īna, suffix of place) + Latin -ālis -al entry 1 — more at opus, do entry 1

First Known Use

1769, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of officinal was in 1769

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Dictionary Entries Near officinal

Cite this Entry

“Officinal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/officinal. Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Medical Definition

officinal 1 of 2

adjective

of·​fi·​ci·​nal ə-ˈfis-ᵊn-əl How to pronounce officinal (audio) ȯ- How to pronounce officinal (audio)
ä-; ˌȯf-ə-ˈsīn-ᵊl,
ˌäf-
1
a
: available without special preparation or compounding
officinal medicine
compare magistral
b
2
of a plant : medicinal
officinal herbs
officinal rhubarb

officinal

2 of 2

noun

: an officinal drug, medicine, or plant
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