Definition of opium in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈōpēəm/


A reddish-brown heavy-scented addictive drug prepared from the juice of the opium poppy, used as a narcotic and in medicine as an analgesic.
Example sentences
  • Surgeons would attempt to stupefy the patient with alcohol, opium, or morphia, but with little effect.
  • Both are controlled drugs, and staff handed the morphine and opium over to the Home Office Drugs Inspectorate.
  • These suggestions were based on evidence that showed that opium was addictive.


the opium of the people (or masses)

see the opiate of the masses at opiate.
Example sentences
  • In a way, the lottery has become, as Mr Marx would have said, ‘the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of heartless conditions, the opium of the people.’
  • Some papers are now part of the showbiz industry and for many, celebrity rather than religion is now the opium of the people.
  • It's almost like the opium of the people that Karl Marx was talking about a century ago.


Late Middle English: via Latin from Greek opion 'poppy juice', from opos 'juice', from an Indo-European root meaning 'water'.

  • The name of this drug comes ultimately from the Greek word opion ‘poppy juice’. The opium of the people is something regarded as giving people a false sense of security and contentment. The phrase originated as a direct translation of the German Opium des Volks, as used by the founder of modern Communism, Karl Marx, in 1843–44.

Words that rhyme with opium


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: o·pi·um

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