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laudanum(lôd`ənəm), tincture, or alcoholic solution, of opiumopium,
substance derived by collecting and drying the milky juice in the unripe seed pods of the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum. Opium varies in color from yellow to dark brown and has a characteristic odor and a bitter taste.
..... Click the link for more information. , first compounded by Paracelsus in the 16th cent. Not then known to be addictive, the preparation was widely used up through the 19th cent. to treat a variety of disorders. Many literary and artistic figures, including Coleridge, Poe, Moussorgsky, and De Quincey, are known to have been addicted.
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1. a tincture of opium
2. (formerly) any medicine of which opium was the main ingredient
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005