[lawd-n-uh m, lawd-nuh m]


a tincture of opium.
Obsolete. any preparation in which opium is the chief ingredient.

Nearby words

  1. lauan,
  2. laud,
  3. laud, william,
  4. lauda,
  5. laudable,
  6. laudation,
  7. laudator,
  8. laudator temporis acti,
  9. laudatory,
  10. lauder

Origin of laudanum

1595–1605; orig. Medieval Latin variant of ladanum; arbitrarily used by Paracelsus to name a remedy based on opium Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for laudanum

British Dictionary definitions for laudanum



a tincture of opium
(formerly) any medicine of which opium was the main ingredient

Word Origin for laudanum

C16: New Latin, name chosen by Paracelsus for a preparation probably containing opium, perhaps based on labdanum

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 laudanum



c.1600, from Modern Latin laudanum (1540s), coined by Paracelsus for a medicine he mixed, supposed to contain gold and crushed pearls and many expensive ingredients, but probably owing its effectiveness to only one of them, opium. Perhaps from Latin laudare "to praise," or from Latin ladanum "a gum resin," from Greek ladanon, a word perhaps of Semitic origin. The word soon came to be used for "any alcoholic tincture of opium." Latin ladanum was used in Middle English of plant resins, but this is not regarded as the source of the 16c. word.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for laudanum




A tincture of opium, formerly used as a drug.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.