psy·​che·​del·​ic | \ ˌsī-kə-ˈde-lik \

Definition of psychedelic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a psychedelic drug (such as LSD)



Definition of psychedelic (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : of, relating to, or being drugs (such as LSD) capable of producing abnormal psychic effects (such as hallucinations) and sometimes psychotic states
b : produced by or associated with the use of psychedelic drugs a psychedelic experience
2 : imitating, suggestive of, or reproducing effects (such as distorted or bizarre images or sounds) resembling those produced by psychedelic drugs psychedelic color schemes
3 : of, relating to, characteristic of, or being the period of the mid- to late-1960's that is associated with the psychedelic drug culture psychedelic rock the psychedelic era/movement … the "rainbow newspaper" of San Francisco that burst onto the psychedelic scene in 1966 …— Don Lattin … speaking of stereotypes, the illustrations reject any hint of a '60s psychedelic style …— Steven Heller

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Other Words from psychedelic


psychedelically \ ˌsī-​kə-​ˈde-​li-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Did You Know?

The most famous--or notorious--of the psychedelic drugs is LSD, a compound that can be obtained from various mushrooms and other fungi but is usually created in the lab. The other well-known psychedelics are psilocybin (likewise obtained from fungi) and mescaline (obtained from peyote cactus). How psychedelics produce their effects is still fairly mysterious, partly because research ceased for almost 20 years because of their reputation, but scientists are determined to find the answers and much research is now under way. Psychedelics are now used to treat anxiety in patients with cancer, and are being tested in the treatment of such serious conditions as severe depression, alcoholism, and drug addiction.

Examples of psychedelic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Researchers and doctors are now calling for more research to be done to fully understand the implications of using psychedelics in treatment, and to analyze both the legal and ethical issues surrounding the drugs. Elly Belle, Teen Vogue, "People With Depression and Anxiety Could Benefit From Hallucinogens," 10 Aug. 2018 This wasn’t at a party or rave but part of a quiet exploration of the mind’s capabilities (more of a Timothy Leary experience than a Ken Kesey one, for those versed in the history of psychedelics). Rob Reid, Ars Technica, "Ars on your lunch break: Getting high and breaking faith," 17 Oct. 2018 Topics include: How psychedelics can treat mental illness Psychedelics research Magic mushrooms and their active ingredient, psilocybin To access this download, simply enter your email address below and start reading! Discover Magazine, "The Science of Psychedelics," 27 July 2018 Not so much for the psychedelics part of it as the theories of consciousness. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Vox Editor at Large Ezra Klein on Recode Media," 14 June 2018 And the one with all the psychedelics and the counterculture origins. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Corey Pein, author of ‘Live Work Work Work Die,’ on Recode Decode," 13 June 2018 What about the future of psychedelics most excites you, and what about it most worries you? Clay Skipper, GQ, "Michael Pollan on Why Psychedelics Might Save Us All," 18 May 2018 Proponents claim that minuscule doses of psychedelics enhance creativity and productivity while reducing depression, anxiety, and cravings for cigarettes and alcohol. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "I Hacked My Body So You Don't Have To," 25 June 2018 In How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan trains his journalistic eye on the therapeutic promises — and spiritual possibilities — of psychedelics to rewire the brain and open the mind. Time Staff, Time, "Best Nonfiction Books of 2018 So Far," 11 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

That said, the rapper’s psychedelic wardrobe is definitely too good to sleep on. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "A$AP Rocky Takes His Babushka Obsession on a Woozy Acid Trip for His New Video," 6 Feb. 2019 The guardedness that once existed in men’s styling is dissipating; for Fall, see the brash futurism of Yoon Ahn’s Ambush, even the psychedelic ski theme at Dsquared2, and of course, Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton. Vogue, "Vogue Runway’s Critics Weigh In on the Fall 2019 Menswear Collections—And the Seismic Shifts Changing the Business," 22 Jan. 2019 One of my favorites was with author Michael Pollan about his fascinating new book on the science of psychedelic drugs. Sean Illing, Vox, "Here are the 5 most interesting conversations I had in 2018," 26 Dec. 2018 The research subjects completed a questionnaire after their psychedelic experiences. Laura Yan, Popular Mechanics, "Near-Death Experience...or Psychedelic Trip?," 19 Aug. 2018 This is like a psychedelic experience that can’t be outlawed. Recode Staff, Recode, "How ‘hackers, founders, and freaks’ built Silicon Valley," 3 Aug. 2018 The narratives span the marijuana anxiety of the 1930s, the psychedelic trips at the ’60s, the cocaine furies of the ’80s and the meth labs at the turn of century. Jeffrey Fleishman,, "Director Gus Van Sant continues his longtime exploration of addiction and recovery with 'Don’t Worry'," 6 July 2018 Some mushrooms are deadly, and others lead to psychedelic trips. Vanessa Hua, San Francisco Chronicle, "Putting the fun back into fungus at the Fungal Fair," 7 Feb. 2018 Argento’s Suspiria is famous for its garishly psychedelic color palette, which mixes all this red with electric greens and blues and jagged black-and-white Expressionist patterns. Aja Romano, Vox, "How Suspiria turns the color red into a plot point," 9 Nov. 2018

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


1956, in the meaning defined above


1957, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for psychedelic


irregular from psych- + Greek dēloun to show, from dēlos evident; akin to Sanskrit dīdeti it shines, Latin dies day — more at deity

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Last Updated

28 Dec 2018

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The first known use of psychedelic was in 1956

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English Language Learners Definition of psychedelic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a psychedelic drug (such as LSD)



English Language Learners Definition of psychedelic (Entry 2 of 2)

used to describe a drug (such as LSD) that affects your thinking and causes you to see things that are not real
: caused by the use of psychedelic drugs
: suggesting the effects of psychedelic drugs by having bright colors, strange sounds, etc.


psy·​che·​del·​ic | \ ˌsī-kə-ˈdel-ik \

Medical Definition of psychedelic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a psychedelic drug (as LSD)



Medical Definition of psychedelic (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or being drugs (as LSD) capable of producing abnormal psychic effects (as hallucinations) and sometimes psychotic states
2 : produced by or associated with the use of psychedelic drugs a psychedelic experience

Other Words from psychedelic

psychedelically \ -​ˈdel-​i-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with psychedelic

Spanish Central: Translation of psychedelic

Nglish: Translation of psychedelic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of psychedelic for Arabic Speakers

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