Dope has a variety of meanings, most relating to thick, viscous liquids. It is an Americanism, coming from the Dutch doop, meaning sauce. Its first English appearance is in the writings of Washington Irving in the 16 May 1807 issue of Salmagundi, in a sense meaning sauce or gravy:
Philo Dripping-pan was remarkable for his predilection to eating, and his love of what the Dutch call doup. Our erudite editor likewise observes that the citizens are to this day noted for their love of “a sop in the pan.”1
This sense expands in subsequent decades to encompass a number of thick, syrupy liquids used for a variety of purposes.
Copyright 1997-2013, by David Wilton