Definition of nostrum
- … is put to work at county fairs, promoting a quack nostrum for pain relief.
- —Patrick McGrath
- an audience eager to believe he had found the nostrum for all of society's ills
- —Warren Sloat
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
politicians repeating all the usual nostrums about the economy
using garlic as a nostrum to prevent disease
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nostrum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
In those thrilling days of yesteryear, declared a 1990 Consumer Reports article, "patent-medicine pitchmen and traveling salesmen blanketed the country, hustling notions and nostrums to gullible settlers." The word nostrum has often been so linked to quack medicine and false hopes for miracle cures, but there's nothing deceitful about its etymology. It has been a part of English since at least 1602, and comes from the Latin noster, meaning "our" or "ours." Some people think that specially prepared medicinal concoctions came to be called nostrums because their purveyors marketed them as our own remedy. In other words, the use of nostrum emphasized that such a potion was unique or exclusive to the pitchman peddling it.
: a suggested solution for a problem that will probably not succeed
: something that is used for treating illness, pain, etc., but that is not an accepted and effective medicine
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