opium

noun
opi·​um | \ ˈō-pē-əm How to pronounce opium (audio) \

Definition of opium

1 : a bitter brownish addictive narcotic drug that consists of the dried latex obtained from immature seed capsules of the opium poppy
2 : something having an effect like that of opium

Examples of opium in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

From the opium wars of the 19th century to the globalization of trade more recently, the Port of Hong Kong has held an unassailable place. Joanne Chiu, WSJ, "Hong Kong Port Alliance Challenged by Cargo Owners," 13 Jan. 2019 The rosewater came from a far-away group of Persian farmers who turned over their opium-trade poppy fields to rose production. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "This All-Natural Skin-Care Line Comes in the Most Striking Glass Apothecary Bottles Yet," 12 Dec. 2018 Farmers in Guerrero say prices for opium paste have dropped to unprofitable levels because drug cartels are substituting it for cheaper, easier to obtain synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Mark Stevenson, The Seattle Times, "Mexico sees 16 percent rise in murders in 1st half of 2018," 23 July 2018 While there were no legal restrictions on opium in the U.S. at the time, the drug had been banned in China by imperial edict in the late 18th century on account of its disastrous social consequences. Randall Fuller, WSJ, "‘Barons of the Sea’ Review: Rigging the Market," 19 July 2018 Pathana Boupha Shop: Packed with Laotian and Southeast Asian antiques and vintage pieces, including silver hill-tribe jewelry, bronze Buddhas, wooden statues, and brass opium weights. Hanya Yanagihara, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Luang Prabang Is the Ideal Southeast Asian City," 20 Nov. 2018 All around the developing world, socialism is understood as a false promise, an ideological opium that repressive elites use to retain and expand power. James Freeman, WSJ, "Capitalism: Still Working," 15 Nov. 2018 Hang out in the opium recovery ward and find out what people are really thinking. Eric Johnson, Recode, "The media is responsible for President Trump and it still hasn’t learned from 2016, says Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi," 18 Oct. 2018 In 2014, Mexican opium production increased by 50 percent, the New York Times reported. Hayley Krischer, Marie Claire, "How Heroin Came for Middle-Class Moms," 20 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'opium.' 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 opium

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for opium

Middle English, from Latin, from Greek opion, from diminutive of opos sap

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about opium

Statistics for opium

Last Updated

10 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for opium

The first known use of opium was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for opium

opium

noun

English Language Learners Definition of opium

: a powerful illegal drug that is made from a type of poppy

opium

noun
opi·​um | \ ˈō-pē-əm How to pronounce opium (audio) \

Kids Definition of opium

: a bitter brownish narcotic drug that is the dried juice of a poppy of Europe and Asia

opium

noun
opi·​um | \ ˈō-pē-əm How to pronounce opium (audio) \

Medical Definition of opium

: a highly addictive drug that consists of the dried milky juice from the seed capsules of the opium poppy obtained from incisions made in the unripe capsules of the plant, that has a brownish yellow color, a faint smell, and a bitter and acrid taste, that is a stimulant narcotic usually producing a feeling of well-being, hallucinations, and drowsiness terminating in coma or death if the dose is excessive, that was formerly used in medicine to soothe pain but is now often replaced by derivative alkaloids (as morphine or codeine) or synthetic substitutes, and that is smoked illicitly as an intoxicant with harmful effects

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on opium

Spanish Central: Translation of opium

Nglish: Translation of opium for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of opium for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about opium

Comments on opium

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

WORD OF THE DAY

the range of authority or knowledge

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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