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
Recent Examples of opium from the Web
The Hmong, a hill tribe that fought alongside the Central Intelligence Agency in a covert war against Communist forces in Laos in the 1960s and 1970s, were known for their skills as opium farmers.
Possessing or trafficking 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) of heroin or 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of opium is punishable by death.
The area in the state’s mountains has been beset by drug gangs that buy local opium production and have tried to extort money from mining operations.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration says opium poppy is a source for codeine, heroin, morphine and other narcotics.
Chinese opium bed from the 1700s St. Clair found this piece in Paris in the early 1980s.
Raw opium can be extracted simply by slitting open poppy seed pods.
Much of the population depended on the opium industry for its livelihood, and could be expected to cling to insurgency more strongly if that livelihood were at stake.
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.
Origin and Etymology of opium
Middle English, from Latin, from Greek opion, from diminutive of opos sap
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
OPIUM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of opium for English Language Learners
: a powerful illegal drug that is made from a type of poppy
OPIUM Defined for Kids
Definition of opium for Students
: a bitter brownish narcotic drug that is the dried juice of a poppy of Europe and Asia
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
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