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noun Pharmacology.
  1. a white, crystalline, narcotic powder, C21H23NO5, derived from morphine, formerly used as an analgesic and sedative: manufacture and importation of heroin are now controlled by federal law in the U.S. because of the danger of addiction.

Origin of heroin

1895–1900; formerly trademark; < German Heroin < Greek hērō-, stem of hḗrōs hero + German -in -in2; allegedly so called from the feelings of power and euphoria which it stimulates
Can be confusedheroin heroine
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for heroin

dope, opium, drug, narcotic, junk, crap, candy, horse, h, diacetylmorphine, scag, mojo

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British Dictionary definitions for heroin


  1. a white odourless bitter-tasting crystalline powder related to morphine: a highly addictive narcotic. Formula: C 21 H 23 NO 5Technical names: diamorphine, diacetylmorphine

Word Origin for heroin

C19: coined in German as a trademark, probably from hero, referring to its aggrandizing effect on the personality
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for heroin

1898, from German Heroin, coined 1898 as trademark registered by Friedrich Bayer & Co. for their morphine substitute, traditionally from Greek heros (see hero (n.1)) because of the euphoric feeling the drug provides, but no evidence for this seems to have been found so far.

A new hypnotic, to which the name of "heroin" has been given, has been tried in the medical clinic of Professor Gerhardt in Berlin. ["The Lancet," Dec. 3, 1898]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

heroin in Medicine


  1. A white, bitter, crystalline compound that is derived from morphine and is a highly addictive narcotic.diacetylmorphine
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

heroin in Science


  1. A white, odorless, bitter crystalline compound, C17H17NO(C2H3O2)2, that is derived from morphine and is a highly addictive narcotic.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.