noun pab·u·lum \ˈpa-byə-ləm\

Definition of pabulum

  1. 1 :  food; especially :  a suspension or solution of nutrients in a state suitable for absorption Roots deliver pabulum to the plant.

  2. 2 :  intellectual sustenance pabulum for consideration and reflection

  3. 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

Did You Know?

Pabulum derives from the Latin term for "food" or "fodder" and was first used in English in the 18th 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

First Known Use: circa 1661

Medical Dictionary


noun pab·u·lum \ˈpab-yə-ləm\

Medical Definition of pabulum

  1. :  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).


to cast off or become cast off

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