Definition of drug in US English:



  • 1A medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.

    ‘a new drug aimed at sufferers from Parkinson's disease’
    • ‘Medications may range from allopathic drugs to alternative medicines to kitchen shelf remedies.’
    • ‘Lower doses of the drug result in analgesic effects, while increasing doses will produce amnesic effects.’
    • ‘This is closest to modern orthodox medicine as many traditional drugs such as aspirin are derived from plants.’
    • ‘This drug is often used initially to treat postoperative pain in France, before a switch to oral analgesic drugs.’
    • ‘Steroids and immunosuppressive drugs have been used for acute flares.’
    • ‘In these patients consumption of aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is common.’
    • ‘Most of modern medicine's prescription drugs grew out of traditional herbal remedies.’
    • ‘He claims that with his new drug developed from traditional medicinal herbs, one need not undergo surgery.’
    • ‘Lavender has sedative effects comparable to drugs such as Valium.’
    • ‘Physicians often try various drugs and dosages to see what works best for each individual.’
    • ‘The retailing of antibiotics, anti-virus drugs and herbal medicines capable of reducing heat skyrocketed.’
    • ‘This disease can be cured but medicines and drugs are beyond the means of most of the villagers.’
    • ‘Doctors treat malaria by using anti-malarial drugs, such as chloroquine or quinine.’
    • ‘They rarely developed new drugs or used foreign medicines.’
    • ‘While travelers to malarial regions can take prophylactic medicines, these drugs are too toxic for long-term use for residents.’
    • ‘Antidepressant and sedative drugs gave troublesome side effects and only temporary relief.’
    • ‘However, laws governing medicinal drugs are either obsolete or not enforced.’
    • ‘Slattery eventually hauled himself back from the brink with the help of a clinical psychiatrist and medicinal drugs for his mind.’
    • ‘More conclusive evidence on the relative risks of herbal medicine versus synthetic drugs is scarce.’
    • ‘In the more severe cases, tranquilizers and antidepressant drugs have been reported to be of benefit.’
    medicine, medical drug, medication, medicament
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A substance taken for its narcotic or stimulant effects, often illegally.
      as modifier ‘a drug addict’
      figurative ‘mass adoration is a highly addictive drug’
      • ‘These areas also are activated by addictive drugs, such as cocaine.’
      • ‘Suddenly her daughter was a drug addict riding high on crack cocaine - and prostitution was the only way she could finance her habit.’
      • ‘The alternative treatment for heroin addiction is the drug methadone which is taken in tablet form.’
      • ‘Social work staff say they are overburdened with casework and worried about not being able to give heroin addicts in the drug court enough support.’
      • ‘His team are using fruit flies to study the genetics of cocaine and other addictive drugs.’
      • ‘At the time he was desperately trying to pay of debts he had built up through his drug addiction using heroin and crack cocaine.’
      • ‘I have also struggled, fought and cried because of my addiction to drugs.’
      • ‘The canine cops were introduced in a bid to prevent drug abuse as well as possible trafficking of illegal drugs on in-patient units.’
      • ‘In a radical move, the country has decriminalised the use of not just cannabis, but all illegal drugs, including heroin.’
      • ‘Six cannabis plants were seized along with a quantity of cannabis resin and the hallucinogenic drug LSD referred to on the streets as magic mushrooms.’
      • ‘He was a crack cocaine addict and sold drugs to support his £200-a-day habit.’
      • ‘Sport is an all-encompassing drug, more addictive than crack cocaine.’
      • ‘The drugs confiscated included heroin, cannabis resin and cocaine.’
      • ‘The self-confessed drug addict admitted possessing heroin with intent, but claimed that he was only looking after it for another person.’
      • ‘The bill would impose an excise tax on marijuana and other currently illegal drugs.’
      • ‘The use of illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin has increased exponentially, most dramatically among the young.’
      • ‘Crack cocaine is a potent hard crystalline form of cocaine, the addictive drug derived from the coca plant and used as a stimulant.’
      • ‘To begin with, new users to addictive drugs cannot be addicted very quickly.’
      • ‘It is grown to produce the narcotic drugs hashish and marijuana, made primarily from its female flowers.’
      • ‘The 28-year-old heroin drug addict is banned from the city centre and from begging inside the outer ring road for five years.’
      narcotic, stimulant, hallucinogen, addictive drug, recreational drug, illegal drug, substance
      View synonyms


[with object]
  • 1Administer a drug to (someone) in order to induce stupor or insensibility.

    ‘they were drugged to keep them quiet’
    • ‘I think one of the hardest parts for my mother was fighting off all the well-intentioned people who tried to drug me.’
    • ‘I had this great adrenalin surge and I walked out feeling exuberant, almost as if I was drugged.’
    • ‘She was obviously drugged still from the poison.’
    • ‘In France, the father of two tennis prodigies has been arrested for allegedly drugging their opponents and inadvertently causing the death of a man.’
    • ‘These men are drugged and bound and then flown out of the country to an island camp, where lawyers are appointed for them but where the normal guarantees of defendants' rights do not apply.’
    • ‘Taking them to his home, he then drugged his victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons.’
    • ‘The spacing meant that the person being drugged would regain a tiny portion of his power between doses.’
    • ‘Then mad old woman drugs John again, and he throws himself off a cliff.’
    • ‘When we consider just how disgusting and deplorable a crime like rape is on a person, I do not see that there is much difference between drugging people, stupefying them, or holding a knife to their throat.’
    • ‘Lamarr escaped the marriage by drugging the maid and climbing out a window.’
    • ‘In the car I woke up and tried to cause an accident, but they attacked me again and drugged me.’
    • ‘Perhaps the best acting (or overacting as the case may be) came from Henry Silva, who played a truly evil villain, one who enjoys his torture and drugging people.’
    • ‘That's probably how they drugged the driver, by spiking the strudel!’
    • ‘A month later, he took a 24-year-old woman out from the service station and watched her withdraw money before drugging her and using her card to take £250 from the cashpoint’
    • ‘It appears it was some hours after he had drugged the children that he wrote a suicide email to his estranged wife and then took his own life.’
    • ‘In the middle of the night he's drugged and carted to the basement where a crazy doctor starts his own brand of treatment.’
    • ‘Even though I'm heavily drugged with medicine, I can tell that I'm waiting for something to happen.’
    • ‘Would this be the same doctor that keeps drugging me?’
    • ‘He also faces multiple charges of sexual interference, choking or drugging victims, unlawfully being in a dwelling place, and breaking probation orders.’
    • ‘Tana had drugged me, slipping some poison into my mead as we cavorted.’
    anaesthetize, give an anaesthetic to, narcotize, give drugs to, give narcotics to, give opiates to, poison
    add drugs to, tamper with, adulterate, contaminate, poison
    stupefied, insensible, befuddled
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Add a drug to (food or drink)
      ‘he drugged their coffee’
      • ‘We went to a party one night, and he drugged my drink.’
      • ‘Lady Arquette drugged Chantelle's wine for one week and observed her closely by pretending to spend quality time with her.’
      • ‘As I read about drugged milkshakes and the corpse wrapped in plastic film and carpet, I start feeling nervous.’
      • ‘Then, Connor drugged Olivia's coffee in the ski lodge.’
      • ‘She has drugged the soldiers' wine, but when she hears movement, she thinks that one of them is awake.’
      • ‘I believed that all of my food and drink was being drugged.’
      • ‘I'm stuck at a place where I swear they're drugging the drinks.’
      • ‘Stephanie drugs Ellie's drink and leaves her vulnerable with a group of men’
      • ‘Riley arrived at Stephanie's house and she drugged his drink.’
      • ‘I was sure that the only place I could have gotten it was at the Lazy Camel, and only if my drink had been drugged.’
      • ‘We were in a daze, caught in a trance and she was sure the coffee was drugged.’
      • ‘The three told police that the women had somehow drugged their drinks making them easily manipulated which resulted in an easy robbery.’
      • ‘Johnston makes no assumptions about who may have drugged her drink, as the crowd was mixed and she couldn't always tell who was a regular and who was a tourist.’
      • ‘He is accused of killing more than 20 young Western backpackers across Asia, usually by drugging their food or drink, in the 1970s and 1980s.’
      • ‘Wow, I didn't even think about the drink being drugged.’
      • ‘Why, she must have tricked me into drugging her wine so that her skin would be as white as snow.’
      • ‘Repeatedly drugging his food and disregarding any positive assertion from his new ‘neighbour,’ Shawn meets his demise when his gun prevents Victor even from committing suicide.’
      • ‘They drugged your drink and then while you were out of it, you fell into the pool.’
      • ‘He specifically told him to drug the guards' food, in order to make the job easier.’
      • ‘She had to drug your food with sedatives to get you to the lab.’
    2. 1.2informal no object Take illegally obtained drugs.
      ‘she was convinced he was out drinking and drugging’
      ‘fifteen years of drinking and drugging’
      • ‘The action opens with Vince drinking and drugging his way through an evening in a drab Michigan motel room.’
      • ‘She was convinced he was out drinking and drugging it up, trying to lure her son into a life of crime.’


  • do drugs

    • informal Take illegal drugs.

      • ‘You're out all the time doing drugs, drinking, smoking and rapping!’
      • ‘She can do what she wants now - so long as it isn't pre-marital sex, doing drugs or smoking.’
      • ‘A decade into the war on drugs, it is clear that people are still doing drugs on a grand scale.’
      • ‘At the start I was just doing drugs at the weekend, but then I moved on to smoking cannabis at school.’
      • ‘Kris told me she realized smoking and doing drugs is stupid and harmful, but it made her look cool.’
      • ‘She's about to turn twenty-one, and doesn't drink, smoke, or do drugs.’
      • ‘Until treatment, Tammy thought she was a good mom because her children were always with her and she would not do drugs in front of them.’
      • ‘Those convicted will have to demonstrate their commitment not to do drugs, but no drug testing will be involved.’
      • ‘I would not say kids are not aware of the dangers of drug abuse, but they disregard what they know and do drugs anyway.’
      • ‘I love my mum and my family and I don't think I really did when I was doing drugs.’
  • on drugs

    • 1Taking medically prescribed drugs.

      ‘on drugs for high blood pressure’
      1. 1.1Under the influence of or habitually taking illegal drugs.
        • ‘All meetings about children who may be on drugs should have a drug worker present.’
        • ‘How do you know he wasn't on drugs?’
        • ‘I have a low opinion of myself, I'm angry at life and I'm somebody I don't want to be when I'm on drugs.’
        • ‘By then she'd got herself a job and a house, but her doctor threw her off the methadone course and she ended up back on drugs.’
        • ‘Well, he was on drugs, remarks Hitchens, who claims the cult is dying off.’
        • ‘They see him as a bad influence and have heard rumors about him being on drugs.’
        • ‘Do they still love me in spite of my awful behaviour towards them when I was on drugs?’
        • ‘I went to Spain for two weeks with two of my other friends who were on drugs.’
        • ‘Just hours after his death the police said he was on drugs.’
        • ‘Just because people can't comprehend the level of fitness and ability that some riders have, they now assume they all do it on drugs.’


Middle English: from Old French drogue, possibly from Middle Dutch droge vate, literally ‘dry vats’, referring to the contents (i.e. dry goods).