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chief alkaloid of opium, 1828, from French morphine or German Morphin (1816), name coined by German apothecary Friedrich Sertürner (1783-1840) in reference to Latin Morpheus, Ovid's name for the god of dreams, from Greek morphe "form, shape, beauty, outward appearance," perhaps from PIE *merph-, a possible Greek root meaning "form," of unknown origin. So called because of the drug's sleep-inducing properties.
morphine mor·phine (môr'fēn')
A bitter crystalline alkaloid extracted from opium, the soluble salts of which are used in medicine as an analgesic, a light anesthetic, or a sedative. Also called morphia.