Chloral hydrate: A prescription sedative/hypnotic drug developed in the 19th century. The drug acts rapidly and induces sleep within 60 minutes, and is used for the short-term treatment of insomnia. Chloral hydrate can be taken orally in syrup or capsule form and is also available in the form of rectal suppositories. The medical use of chloral hydrate has declined over the years due to the development of the barbiturates and benzodiazepines.
Brand names for chloral hydrate include Noctec and Aquachloral.
Chloral hydrate has often been abused and misused since its development in 1832. A solution of chloral hydrate in alcohol is the ingredient in the infamous "knockout drops", otherwise known as a "Mickey Finn."