pain·​kill·​er | \ ˈpān-ˌki-lər How to pronounce painkiller (audio) \
variants: or less commonly pain-killer

Definition of painkiller

: something (such as a drug) that relieves pain

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Other Words from painkiller

pain-killing \ ˈpān-​ˌki-​liŋ How to pronounce pain-killing (audio) \ or painkilling adjective

Synonyms for painkiller


analgesic, anesthetic, anodyne

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Examples of painkiller in a Sentence

I took some over-the-counter painkillers for my headache. a lot of painkillers have turned out to be addictive substances for patients

Recent Examples on the Web

The increasing number of deaths from drug use in the United States has been linked with a surge in the distribution of prescription painkillers as one factor. Jacqueline Howard, CNN, "Incarceration, falling incomes may play a role in the US opioid epidemic, study says," 3 July 2019 Northeast Ohio has been hit particularly hard as heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers are in abundant supply. Eric Heisig,, "Proposal to unite cities, counties suing Big Pharma over opioid epidemic put on hold," 25 June 2019 The only individual-level analysis to date, a nationally representative observation study of 57,000 Americans, found that medical cannabis users were more likely to misuse prescription painkillers. The Economist, "Medical marijuana is not the way out of America’s opioid crisis," 24 June 2019 Opioids are a class of pharmaceuticals that include prescription painkillers such as OxyContin, morphine and fentanyl, as well as illicit drugs like heroin. Faith Karimi, CNN, "David Sackler, whose family owns Purdue Pharma, says the company is not to blame for the opioid epidemic," 20 June 2019 The Eastern Shoshone Tribe has joined a growing list of municipalities and groups nationwide in suing the makers and distributers of prescription painkillers. USA TODAY, "Retired monkeys, freeze-dried blood, ‘Hidden Figures Way’: News from around our 50 states," 14 June 2019 What's more, prescription painkillers once were involved in the largest share of overdose deaths, but that changed as heroin and then fentanyl surged. Carla K. Johnson,, "Making medical marijuana legal does not prevent fatal opioid overdoses, study says," 10 June 2019 In 1999, four years after OxyContin was approved by the FDA, just over 1,000 women died of a prescription painkiller overdose; by 2010, that number had increased to 6,600. Hayley Krischer, Marie Claire, "How Heroin Came for Middle-Class Moms," 20 Aug. 2018 There is obviously a time when painkillers should be prescribed, but medical professionals should be more discerning. Natalie Dreier, ajc, "Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea opens up about past drug abuse, places blame for country’s drug woes," 1 Mar. 2018

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

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First Known Use of painkiller

1849, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for painkiller

Last Updated

17 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for painkiller

The first known use of painkiller was in 1849

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More Definitions for painkiller



English Language Learners Definition of painkiller

: a drug that decreases or removes pain that you feel in your body


pain·​kill·​er | \ -ˌkil-ər How to pronounce painkiller (audio) \

Medical Definition of painkiller

: something (as a drug) that relieves pain

Other Words from painkiller

painkilling \ -​iŋ How to pronounce painkilling (audio) \ adjective

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Comments on painkiller

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


an act or instance of editing or removing

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