a. A narcotic, especially an addictive narcotic.
b. Narcotics considered as a group.
c. An illicit drug, especially marijuana.
2. A narcotic preparation used to stimulate a racehorse.
3. Informal A stupid person; a dolt.
4. Informal Factual information, especially of a private nature.
5. Chemistry An absorbent or adsorbent material used in certain manufacturing processes, such as the nitroglycerin used in making dynamite.
6. A type of lacquer formerly used to protect, waterproof, and tauten the cloth surfaces of airplane wings.
7. Chiefly Southern US A carbonated soft drink containing an extract of the kola nut and other flavorings.
8. Lower Northern US Syrup or sweet sauce poured on ice cream.
v. doped, dop·ing, dopes
a. To administer a narcotic to: was doped up for the operation.
b. To add a narcotic to: They doped his drink before robbing him.
c. To administer a performance-enhancing substance to (an athlete).
d. To subject (an athlete) to blood doping.
2. Electronics To treat (a semiconductor) with a dopant.
1. To take narcotics or a performance-enhancing substance.
2. To engage in blood doping.
dope out Informal
1. To discover or plan: "I just had to dope out a way to get there without getting caught" (Leslie Edgerton).
2. To solve or decipher: dope out a puzzle.
[Dutch doop, sauce, from doopen, to dip.]
Word History: The word dope originated in American English and is a borrowing of the Dutch word doop, "sauce." (New York City was once a Dutch colony, New Amsterdam, and many words originally distinctive to American English, like boss and cookie, were borrowed from Dutch colonists in the region.) Throughout the 1800s, dope meant "gravy," and in the North Midland United States, particularly Ohio, dope is still heard as the term for a topping for ice cream, such as chocolate syrup or fruit sauce. Also in the 1800s, the meaning of dope was extended to include various medicinal mixtures or syrups, including the syrups from which soda-fountain drinks like Coca-Cola were prepared. A continuation of this usage survives in the South, particularly in South Carolina, where dope refers to the carbonated soft drink that elsewhere in the United States is called cola. Dope was especially used of those medicinal preparations that produced a stupefying effect, and it even became a slang term for the dark, molasses-like form of opium that was smoked in opium dens. The common modern meanings of dope, "a narcotic substance" and "narcotics considered as a group," developed from this use of the word.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.