nocebo

noun
no·​ce·​bo | \ˌnō-ˈsē-(ˌ)bō \
plural nocebos

Definition of nocebo 

: a harmless substance or treatment that when taken by or administered to a patient is associated with harmful side effects or worsening of symptoms due to negative expectations or the psychological condition of the patient

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Did You Know?

Nocent has been in the English language as a word for "harmful" since the 15th century. It comes from Latin nocēre, meaning "to harm." Latin nocebo is a close relative that means "I will be harmful" and that contrasts with placebo, meaning "I shall please." People in medicine began using "placebo" for inert preparations prescribed solely for a patient's mental relief, and not for relieving a disorder, in the late 18th century. As doctors began to observe the effects of placebos, some noticed that the harmless preparations actually sometimes caused detrimental effects on the patient's health. English speakers began using the word nocebo for substances causing such adverse reactions in patients in 1961.

Examples of nocebo in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Whereas a placebo is an inert substance that exerts a beneficial effect, a nocebo is an inert substance that exerts an unpleasant effect. Richard Klasco, New York Times, "How Many People Can’t Tolerate Statins?," 1 June 2018 About 5 percent developed myalgias while taking the statin atorvastatin (brand name Lipitor), and about half that many developed myalgias while taking placebo, or more precisely, nocebo. Richard Klasco, New York Times, "How Many People Can’t Tolerate Statins?," 1 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nocebo.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of nocebo

1961, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for nocebo

Latin, I will be harmful; after placebo

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The first known use of nocebo was in 1961

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More Definitions for nocebo

nocebo

noun
no·​ce·​bo | \ˌnō-ˈsē-(ˌ)bō \

Medical Definition of nocebo 

: a harmless substance or treatment that when taken by or administered to a patient is associated with undesirable or harmful side effects or worsening of symptoms due to negative expectations or the psychological condition of the patient

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