What’s Wrong With The Word “Addict”?

“The word addict has been around in English since at least the 1500s, adapted from the Latin addictus, meaning “assigned, surrendered.” But the way we talk about people with addiction is changing, and here at Dictionary.com, we’re changing along with it.

In a major update to Dictionary.com, our lexicographers have replaced all instances of addict used as a noun with “a person addicted to” or a “habitual user of.” For example, we no longer define our second sense of user as “one who uses drugs, especially an abuser or addict.” Our definition now reads: “a person who is addicted to or abuses a controlled substance or alcohol; one who uses illegal or addictive drugs.” These and other revisions have improved over 25 entries across our site.

Another big change? Our definition of addict as a noun, which dates back to the late 1800s, now labels that the word is sometimes offensive. We’ve also added an extensive Sensitive Language Note to our revised entry for addict.

Find more from Dictionary.com (2019)

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