[ pur-kuh-set ]
/ ˈpɜr kəˌsɛt /
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Pharmacology, Trademark.
a brand name for a narcotic combination drug containing acetaminophen and oxycodone, prescribed as a pain reliever.


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What else does percocet mean?

Percocet is a prescription brand of pain-reliever, associated with recreational abuse and the opioid epidemic.

Where does percocet come from?

Percocet is a trade name for an oral drug combining oxycodone (hydrochloride) and acetaminophen, two common types of pain-relief medications.

A mixture of oxycodone and aspirin called Percodan was released in 1950. First developed by Vintage Pharms and later acquired by Endo Pharmaceuticals, Percocet was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1976 to relieve moderate-to-severe pain and reduce fevers on a prescription basis.

Since Percocet contains oxycodone, it is considered a highly addictive opioid and a controlled substance. It is one of several oxycodone-based products, including OxyContin, contributing to the opioid epidemic sweeping the U.S. since the 1990s due to overprescription, abuse, and illegal drug-dealing.

Causing painful withdrawal symptoms, a Percocet overdose slows the body’s natural functions and, when not leading to death, causes serious side effects such as depression, seizures, and jaundice.

How is percocet used in real life?

While the trade name is properly Percocet, the drug is commonly referred to in the plural, Percocets. Other brands of the drug include Endocet, Depalgos, and Roxicet.

The term Percocet is widely used by health professionals, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, as well as patients prescribed the drug for chronic pain.

Percocet is also well-known to opioid drug addicts, dealers, law-enforcement agencies, and public-health officials who deal with opioid abuse. Street names for Percocet are many, including bananas, blues, buttons, ercs, percs, and kickers.

Percocet frequently comes up in the popular press in relation to celebrity overdose deaths, including Prince in 2016 and Tom Petty in 2017. The prominence of Percocet as a painkiller, both as prescribed and abused, has led to their familiar reference in popular music, especially hip-hop. The Philadelphia-based punk band, The Percocettes, formed in 2006 and their name puns on the drug.

Given how addictive Percocet can be, addiction experts recommend only discussing the drug with trusted individuals and professionals.

More examples of percocet:

“The unknown opioid is a modified type of fentanyl that the GBI Crime Lab had never seen, the bureau said. The pills were made to resemble the prescription painkiller Percocet and sold on the street, according to state officials.”
—Michael Nedelman, CNN, June, 2017


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

How to use Percocet in a sentence

Medical definitions for Percocet

[ pûrkə-sĕt′ ]

A trademark for a drug containing oxycodone hydrochloride and acetaminophen.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.