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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1966, from keto-, comb. form of ketone, + amine.


n. A pain-killing drug and anaesthetic.


n. a general anesthetic and tranquilizer (not a barbiturate) that is administered intravenously or intramuscularly; used mainly by veterinarians or for minor surgery with geriatric or pediatric patients; taken in large doses it causes hallucinations similar to those associated with the use of PCP [syn: ketamine hydrochloride, Ketalar]


Ketamine, sold under the brand name Ketalar among others, is a medication mainly used for starting and maintaining anesthesia. It induces a trance-like state while providing pain relief, sedation, and memory loss. Other uses include for chronic pain and for sedation in intensive care. Heart function, breathing, and airway reflexes generally remain functional. Effects typically begin within five minutes when given by injection with the main effects lasting up to 25 minutes.

Common side effects include psychological reactions as the medication wears off. These reactions may include agitation, confusion, or hallucinations. Elevated blood pressure and muscle tremors are relatively common, while low blood pressure and a decrease in breathing is less so. Spasms of the larynx may rarely occur. Ketamine has been classified as an NMDA receptor antagonist; it also acts on opioid receptors and monoamine transporters among others.

Ketamine was discovered in 1962. It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, of the most important medications needed in a basic health system. It is available as a generic medication. The wholesale cost in the developing world is between 0.08 and 0.32 USD per dose. Ketamine is also used as a drug of abuse and as a recreational drug.

Usage examples of "ketamine".

She mentioned a relatively little known drug, ketamine, to Happy and he surprised her with his familiarity with it.

Normally, ketamine was used in such strong doses that it would produce unconsciousness, but Marcia felt ketamine had properties that could unveil age-old secrets of the psyche if it were taken in much smaller quantities.

Marcia Moore became more and more convinced that ketamine was the answer to what she was seeking, and Dr.

Boccaci was convinced that ketamine would one day be recognized as one of the brightest tools in psychotherapy.

She was even able to convince a few of her close friends to try ketamine, but none of them liked the sense of falling away from themselves that resulted.

It was as if the sixties had passed them by and they thought that ketamine could do what Leary thought acid would do with psychotherapy.

After fasting all day and doing yoga, he injected himself with ketamine at midnight.

The human response to ketamine occurs so quickly that there is a risk of losing motor control even before the injection is completed.

Hearts seem to beat normally after the user is injected with ketamine, but their breathing can be suppressed.

As dangerous as ketamine is, it has become the emerging top choice as a club drug in New York, Miami, and San Diego.

As the dose of ketamine entered her bloodstream, Nina started counting, hoarding her strength.

An inventory showed missing bottles of Ketamine, indicating a drug-related vandalism.

A soldier hurried over and hit the monkey with a double load of ketamine, and the monkey went limp.

Turning to the IV stand, he saw that the valve on the ketamine had been turned all the way, and the pouch of liquid was just about empty.

I met Jack slightly earlier while the story was off on a sub-plot regarding a missing consignment of ketamine, so there was time for a brief word together.