A Word A Day : Nostrum
Thursday, 1st May 2008 : Today's Word is ...
( Noun )
Pronunciation : nós-tram
1. A medicine whose effectiveness is unproved and whose ingredients are usually secret
2. A favorite but usually ineffective remedy for problems or evils
3. An agent used to restore health
4. A remedy not substantiated by scientific evidence or broadly accepted by the scientific community. Some herbal supplements may fall under this category.
A nostrum wouldn't ever be prescribed by a real doctor — it may cure you but it may kill you as well, and no one really knows what's in it. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez disparagingly referred to the policies of US President George Bush as nostrums.
From Latin nostrum (remedium), our (remedy), neuter of noster
elixir, medicament, medication, medicine, physic, remedy, cure
• The man touted his miracle nostrum could cure a cold in ten minutes.
• James is put to work at country fairs, promoting a quack nostrum for pain relief.
• His hopeful message attracted an audience eager to believe he had found the nostrum for all of society's ills.
• Old ladies were always offering her their advice, recommending this or that nostrum.
• Though, indeed, the vendor of a certain nostrum has vulgarized the truism to the very point of contempt.
• His first thought when he had made Professor Maxon comfortable upon the couch was to fetch his pet nostrum, for there burned strong within his yellow breast the same powerful yearning to experiment that marks the greatest of the profession to whose mysteries he aspired.
• nostrums : Noun - Plural
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