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opium Line breaks: opium
Pronunciation: /ˈəʊpɪəm/

Definition of opium in English:


[mass noun]
A reddish-brown heavy-scented addictive drug prepared from the juice of the opium poppy, used illicitly as a narcotic and occasionally in medicine as an analgesic: he was addicted to opium
More 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)
Something regarded as inducing a false and unrealistic sense of contentment among people.
[Translating the German phrase Opium des Volks, used by Marx in reference to religion (1844)]
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

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