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[en-dawr-fin] /ɛnˈdɔr fɪn/
any of a group of peptides occurring in the brain and other tissues of vertebrates, and resembling opiates, that react with the brain's opiate receptors to raise the pain threshold.
Origin of endorphin
1970-75; end(ogenous) (m)orphine, with -ine respelled as -in2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for endorphins
  • But the endorphins from running keep her mind clear and make her spirits soar, she said.
  • The reason is almost certainly the effects of endogenous opioids, better known as endorphins.
  • When a heroin user shoots up, the opiates in the drug plug into the nerve receptors normally occupied by endorphins.
  • She attributes this effect to the release of endorphins in the brain, which she says occurs during reflexology.
  • Well, these scientists think it might have something to do with endorphins.
  • They become addicted to the rush of endorphins released by the starving body.
  • For athletes, an array of cellphone and tablet apps can help keep the endorphins flowing.
  • The learning process in the human mind his met with chemical rewards from the brain, in the form of dopamine and endorphins.
  • Shopping purchases have been a regular source of rising endorphins.
  • Smiling or even seeing somebody smile releases endorphins that work in the brain to give an overall feeling of well-being.
British Dictionary definitions for endorphins


any of a class of polypeptides, including enkephalin, occurring naturally in the brain, that bind to pain receptors and so block pain sensation
Word Origin
C20: from endo- + morphine
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 endorphins



1975, from French endorphine, from endogène "endogenous, growing within" (see endo- + genus) + (mo)rphine.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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endorphins in Medicine

endorphin en·dor·phin (ěn-dôr'fĭn)
Any of a group of peptide hormones that bind to opiate receptors and are found mainly in the brain. Endorphins reduce the sensation of pain and affect emotions.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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endorphins in Science
Any of a group of peptide substances secreted by the anterior portion of the pituitary gland that inhibit the perception of painful stimuli. Endorphins act as neurotransmitters in the pain pathways of the brain and spinal cord. Narcotic drugs may stimulate the secretion of endorphins.

Our Living Language  : Endorphins are long chains of amino acids, or polypeptides, that are able to bind to the neuroreceptors in the brain and are capable of relieving pain in a manner similar to that of morphine. There are three major types of endorphins: beta-endorphins are found almost entirely in the pituitary gland, while enkephalins and dynorphins are both distributed throughout the nervous system. Scientists had suspected that analgesic opiates, such as morphine and heroin, worked effectively against pain because the body had receptors that were activated by such drugs. They reasoned that these receptors probably existed because the body itself had natural painkilling compounds that also bonded to those receptors. When scientists in the 1970s isolated a biochemical from a pituitary gland hormone that showed analgesic properties, Choh Li, a chemist from Berkeley, California, named it endorphin, meaning "the morphine within." Besides behaving as a pain reducer, endorphins are also thought to be connected to euphoric feelings, appetite modulation, and the release of sex hormones. Prolonged, continuous exercise contributes to an increased production of endorphins and, in some people, the subsequent "runner's high."
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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endorphins in Culture
endorphins [(en-dawr-finz)]

Substances produced by the brain that have painkilling and tranquillizing effects on the body. Endorphins are thought to be similar to morphine and are usually released by the brain during times of extreme body stress. The release of endorphins may explain why trauma victims sometimes cannot feel the pain associated with their injuries.

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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