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[bahr-bich-er-it, -uh-reyt; bahr-bi-too r-it, -eyt, -tyoo r-] /bɑrˈbɪtʃ ər ɪt, -əˌreɪt; ˌbɑr bɪˈtʊər ɪt, -eɪt, -ˈtyʊər-/
noun, Pharmacology
any of a group of barbituric acid derivatives, used in medicine as sedatives and hypnotics.
Origin of barbiturate
1925-30; barbitur(ic) + -ate2
Related forms
nonbarbiturate, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for barbiturates
  • barbiturates are a type of depressant drug that cause relaxation and sleepiness.
  • Generally, a doctor prescribes a lethal dose of barbiturates, but is not legally allowed to administer it.
British Dictionary definitions for barbiturates


/bɑːˈbɪtjʊrɪt; -ˌreɪt/
a derivative of barbituric acid, such as phenobarbital, used in medicine as a sedative, hypnotic, or anticonvulsant
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for barbiturates



1928 (morphine barbiturate is from 1918), from German, coined 1863 by chemist Adolf von Baeyer (1835-1917) from Barbitursäure "barbituric acid," itself coined by Baeyer, perhaps from woman's name Barbara, or perhaps from Latin barbata, in Medieval Latin usnea barbata, literally "bearded moss." Second element is because it was obtained from uric acid. With chemical ending -ate (3).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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barbiturates in Medicine

barbiturate bar·bi·tu·rate (bär-bĭch'ər-ĭt, -ə-rāt', bär'bĭ-tur'ĭt, -āt', -tyur'-)

  1. A salt or ester of barbituric acid.

  2. Any of a group of barbituric acid derivatives that act as central nervous system depressants and are used as sedatives or hypnotics.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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barbiturates in Science
Any of a group of drugs that act as depressants of the central nervous system, are highly addictive, and are used primarily as sedatives and anticonvulsants. Phenobarbital and pentobarbital are examples of barbiturates.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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barbiturates in Culture
barbiturates [(bahr-bich-uh-rits, bahr-bich-uh-rayts)]

Substances derived from an organic compound that are used as sedatives and sleep inducers. Barbiturates, which work by depressing the activity of the central nervous system, are sometimes used in the treatment of illnesses such as epilepsy.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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