Word of the Day




the drug in tobacco that makes people addicted

Origin and usage

The noun nicotine comes from the Latin name of the tobacco plant, ‘Nicotiana tabacum’, and was first used in English in the early 19th century.


It may come as a surprise to learn that nicotine is an eponym. The tobacco plant,  ‘Nicotiana tabacum’, was named after a French diplomat and lexciographer, Jean Nicot, who introduced tobacco to France in 1560. The plant was originally named ‘Herba nicotiana’ by a French botanist, Jacques Daléchamps, and that name was adopted by Carl Linnaeus when he systematized the naming of plants and animals in the 18th century.  ‘Nicotiana’ is also the name of a sweet-smelling ornamental plant whose flowers release their fragrance particularly at night. Nicotine occurs in the compound nouns nicotine gum and nicotine patch, used by those who are trying to give up smoking.

Many plants and animals are named either after the person who discovered them, or after important people involved in their discovery. Bougainvillea, for example, is named after Louis Antoine de Bougainville, an explorer who led the first French circumnavigation of the globe in the mid 18th century.


“[I]t would take me four decades to find a trail out of Nicotine Canyon. I finally ran out of reasons to smoke…when I ran out of air….”
(John Aaron)

Related words

baccy, fag, tar, the weed

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.


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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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