pabulum

noun pab·u·lum \ ˈpa-byə-ləm \
Updated on: 19 Sep 2017

Definition of pabulum

1 :food; especially :a suspension or solution of nutrients in a state suitable for absorption
  • Roots deliver pabulum to the plant.
2 :intellectual sustenance
  • pabulum for consideration and reflection
3 :something (such as writing or speech) that is insipid, simplistic, or bland
  • wrote pabulum that was intended to offend no one

pabulum was our Word of the Day on 09/30/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of pabulum in a Sentence

  1. we have reached a cultural low if reality television is regarded as pabulum for the masses

Recent Examples of pabulum from the Web

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

Did You Know?

Pabulum derives from the Latin term for "food" or "fodder" and was first used in English in the 17th century for anything taken in by plants or animals to maintain life and growth. Within 30 years of its first appearance in English texts, it was also being used to refer to things so intellectually stimulating or nourishing that they could be considered food for thought. But the word took on a whole new flavor in the 1930s when a team of Canadian doctors formulated a highly nutritious (but bland) baby cereal and named their product "Pablum" (based on the Latin word). As a result, the similar-looking "pabulum" did a linguistic about-face and is now often used for things that are bland and unstimulating as well as for things that are intellectually sustaining.

Origin and Etymology of pabulum

Latin, food, fodder; akin to Latin pascere to feed — more at food

pabulum Synonyms

Synonyms
aliment, food, nourishment, sustenance
Related Words
refection
Near Antonyms
candy, fluff, pablum, pap, trash

Medical Dictionary

pabulum

noun pab·u·lum \ ˈpab-yə-ləm \

medical Definition of pabulum

:food; especially :a suspension or solution of nutrients in a state suitable for absorption


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up pabulum? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to conform or adhere

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one-green-toy-robot-amidst-many-red-toy-robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!