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  1. any of a class of substances that blunt the senses, as opium, morphine, belladonna, and alcohol, that in large quantities produce euphoria, stupor, or coma, that when used constantly can cause habituation or addiction, and that are used in medicine to relieve pain, cause sedation, and induce sleep.
  2. anything that exercises a soothing or numbing effect or influence: Television is a narcotic for many people.
  1. of or having the power to produce narcosis, as a drug.
  2. pertaining to or of the nature of narcosis.
  3. of or relating to narcotics or their use.
  4. used by, or in the treatment of, narcotic addicts.

Origin of narcotic

1350–1400; Middle English narcotik(e) (noun) < Medieval Latin narcōticum < Greek narkōtikón, noun use of neuter of narkōtikós benumbing, equivalent to narkō- (variant stem of narkoûn to benumb; see narco-) + -tikos -tic
Related formsnar·cot·i·cal·ly, adverban·ti·nar·cot·ic, adjective, nounan·ti·nar·cot·ics, adjectivenon·nar·cot·ic, adjective, nounpre·nar·cot·ic, adjectivepseu·do·nar·cot·ic, adjective, nounsem·i·nar·cot·ic, adjectivesub·nar·cot·ic, adjectiveun·nar·cot·ic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Contemporary Examples of narcotic

Historical Examples of narcotic

British Dictionary definitions for narcotic


  1. any of a group of drugs, such as heroin, morphine, and pethidine, that produce numbness and stupor. They are used medicinally to relieve pain but are sometimes also taken for their pleasant effects; prolonged use may cause addiction
  2. anything that relieves pain or induces sleep, mental numbness, etc
  3. any illegal drug
  1. of, relating to, or designating narcotics
  2. of or relating to narcotics addicts or users
  3. of or relating to narcosis
Derived Formsnarcotically, adverb

Word Origin for narcotic

C14: via Medieval Latin from Greek narkōtikós, from narkoūn to render numb, from narkē numbness
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 narcotic

late 14c., from Old French narcotique (early 14c.), noun use of adjective, and directly from Medieval Latin narcoticum, from Greek narkotikon, neuter of narkotikos "making stiff or numb," from narkotos, verbal adjective of narcoun "to benumb, make unconscious," from narke "numbness, deadness, stupor, cramp" (also "the electric ray"), perhaps from PIE root *(s)nerq- "to turn, twist." Sense of "any illegal drug" first recorded 1926, American English. Related: Narcotics.


c.1600, from Middle French narcotique (14c.) or German narkotisch and directly from Medieval Latin narcoticus, from Greek narkotikos (see narcotic (n.)). Related: Narcotical (1580s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

narcotic in Medicine


  1. A drug derived from opium or opiumlike compounds, with potent analgesic effects associated with significant alteration of mood and behavior, and with the potential for dependence and tolerance following repeated administration.
  1. Capable of inducing a state of stuporous analgesia.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

narcotic in Science


  1. Any of a group of highly addictive analgesic drugs derived from opium or opiumlike compounds. Narcotics can cause drowsiness and significant alterations of mood and behavior.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.