One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An alcoholic solution containing morphine, prepared from opium and formerly used as a narcotic painkiller.
drug, narcotic, mind-altering drug, sedative, tranquillizer, depressant, sleeping pill, soporific, anaesthetic, painkiller, analgesic, anodyneView synonyms
- ‘Any painkillers containing opiates, such as laudanum, were out of the question until the concussion went away.’
- ‘She took laudanum for this, as was the fashion, a habit that brought her to the attention of a fellow poet, the opium addict Coleridge.’
- ‘Doctors would give babies phenobarbital for colic and laudanum (a form of opium) for teething.’
- ‘Within a year, addicted to laudanum and alcohol and grossly overweight, George IV was dead.’
- ‘Morphine and laudanum addicts were usually seen as pitiful unfortunates living failed lives as a result of their habits.’
Mid 16th century (applied to various preparations containing opium): modern Latin, the name given by Paracelsus to a costly medicament of which opium was believed to be the active ingredient; perhaps a variant of Latin ladanum (see ladanum).
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