pan·​a·​cea | \ ˌpa-nə-ˈsē-ə How to pronounce panacea (audio) \

Definition of panacea

: a remedy for all ills or difficulties : cure-all The law will improve the lives of local farmers, but it is no panacea.

Other Words from panacea

panacean \ ˌpa-​nə-​ˈsē-​ən How to pronounce panacea (audio) \ adjective

Did you know?

Panacea is from Latin, and the Latin word, in turn, is from Greek panakeia. In Greek, panakēs means "all-healing," combining pan- ("all") and akos, which means "remedy." The Latin designation Panacea or Panaces has been awarded to more than one plant at one time or other, among them the herb today known as Prunella vulgaris, whose common name is self-heal. More often than not, panacea is used when decrying a claim made for a remedy that seems too good to be true. Most likely that's what the author is doing in a 1625 anatomical treatise, describing "a certaine medicine made of saffron, quick silver, vermilion, antimonie, and certaine sea shels made up in fashion of triangular lozenges," and calling it a panacea.

Panacea Comes From the Name of a Greek Goddess

Panacea comes from a Greek word meaning "all-healing", and Panacea was the goddess of healing. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, alchemists who sought to concoct the "elixir of life" (which would give eternal life) and the "philosopher's stone" (which would turn ordinary metals into gold) also labored to find the panacea. But no such medicine was ever found, just as no solution to all of a society's difficulties has ever been found. Thus, panacea is almost always used to criticize the very idea of a total solution ("There's no panacea for the current problems plaguing Wall Street").

Examples of panacea in a Sentence

The law will improve the lives of local farmers, but it is no panacea. a woman who seems to believe that chicken soup is a panacea for nearly everything
Recent Examples on the Web Even in the rosiest scenario, Paxlovid won’t be a panacea. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 10 May 2022 Roast chicken may be my therapy, but chicken soup is my panacea, my madeleine dipped in tea. New York Times, 30 Dec. 2021 Yet Chipps of the Sponsorship Report says that corporate sponsorships are far from a panacea for small towns or mid-sized cities struggling to jumpstart their revenues and economies. Matt Hansen, The Week, 23 Feb. 2018 Infrastructure isn't the only answer Street design tends to attract the largest focus in discussions about preventing fatal crashes, but better design isn't a panacea. Kayla Dwyer, IndyStar, 2 May 2022 Looking Ahead Technology is not a panacea but an enabler that allows people, processes, and information to work in unison. Sri Manchala, Forbes, 14 Apr. 2022 While supplements aren’t a panacea, when coupled with the aforementioned five behaviors, the research on them certainly seems promising. Perri O. Blumberg, Men's Health, 14 Apr. 2022 Each of these policies may help, but none is a panacea. Barry Latzer, National Review, 22 Mar. 2022 State courts are not a panacea to cure the effects of gerrymandering. David Daley, CNN, 14 Mar. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of panacea

1548, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for panacea

Latin, from Greek panakeia, from panakēs all-healing, from pan- + akos remedy

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The first known use of panacea was in 1548

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Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Panacea.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for panacea


pan·​a·​cea | \ ˌpan-ə-ˈsē-ə How to pronounce panacea (audio) \

Medical Definition of panacea

: a remedy for all ills or difficulties

Other Words from panacea

panacean \ -​ˈsē-​ən How to pronounce panacea (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on panacea

Nglish: Translation of panacea for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of panacea for Arabic Speakers


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