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.

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Other Words from panacea

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

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 Ball and Enjeti envision working-class populism as a panacea for America’s political deadlock, but the realignment may already be underway — on terms Ball would find unfavorable. Tobias Hoonhout, National Review, "Progressive Populism’s Dashed Hopes," 16 Apr. 2020 Hershey had other incentives to rethink TNR as a panacea. Carrie Arnold, Scientific American, "Can We Save the Woodrat without Slaughtering Cats?," 29 Mar. 2020 Experts caution that serological testing is not a panacea. Melanie Mason, Los Angeles Times, "How far has the coronavirus spread? This quick blood test might provide some answers," 10 Apr. 2020 Devotees tout the return of carbon to the ground as a panacea: Healthier soil begets healthier crops that require less fertilizer. Brian Barth, Popular Science, "The secret to curbing farm emissions is buried in the Stone Age," 1 Apr. 2020 Fungicides are no panacea, in part because the pathogen infects during wet weather, when the chemicals wash away. Erik Stokstad, Science | AAAS, "How a gene from a grass-living fungus could save wheat crops worldwide," 9 Apr. 2020 And all serve as a timely and welcome reminder that no diet is a panacea, and no changes to our bodies will deliver us from the glorious, messy work of being human. Your Fat Friend, SELF, "I’m a Fat Activist and I Collect Vintage Diet Books," 3 Apr. 2020 Private prisons house less than a tenth of U.S. inmates, so nixing them is no panacea. Bonnie Kristian, TheWeek, "When a prisoner dies of coronavirus, is the virus really to blame?," 2 Apr. 2020 But moving a large chunk of humanity off Earth, even if it could be done, would hardly be a panacea. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "The Pandemic Has Grounded Humankind," 26 Mar. 2020

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.

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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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Time Traveler for panacea

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The first known use of panacea was in 1548

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Last Updated

15 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Panacea.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for panacea


How to pronounce panacea (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of panacea

somewhat formal : something that will make everything about a situation better


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 panacean (audio) \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on panacea

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for panacea

Spanish Central: Translation of panacea

Nglish: Translation of panacea for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of panacea for Arabic Speakers

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