Psychedelic originally described drugs — especially LSD — that made users experience bizarre, mind-bending sounds and images, real and imagined. Soon psychedelic was also used for music, art, and colors that seemed to fit a drug-induced haze.

Psychedelic art is wild, vivid, and might make you a little dizzy, like an electric pink tie-dyed t-shirt or a scene of phosphorescent green poodles in high heels, hiking the Alps against a purple-plaid sky. Psychedelic rock is heavy on electronic sounds and intricate instrumentation, in the style the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, and the Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers album. The word, dating from the 1950s, comes from the Greek psyche, “soul, mind” and delos “clear” — just what psychedelic isn’t.

Definitions of psychedelic
  1. adjective
    producing distorted sensory perceptions and feelings or altered states of awareness or sometimes states resembling psychosis
    psychedelic drugs like psilocybin and mescaline”
    psychoactive, psychotropic
    affecting the mind or mood or other mental processes
  2. adjective
    (of a mental state) characterized by intense and distorted perceptions and hallucinations and feelings of euphoria or sometimes despair
    “a psychedelic experience”
    troubled emotionally and usually deeply
  3. adjective
    having the vivid colors and bizarre patterns associated with psychedelic states
    “a psychedelic painting”
    colorful, colourful
    having striking color
Word Family