patent medicine

noun

Definition of patent medicine 

: a nonprescription medicinal preparation that is typically protected by a trademark and whose contents are incompletely disclosed also : any drug that is a proprietary

Note: Patent medicine is often used to refer to a product (such as an elixir, tonic, or liniment) that was marketed as a medicine in the U.S. during the 1800s and early 1900s but was typically of unproven effectiveness and questionable safety.

Examples of patent medicine in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Perfume labels, posters advertising circuses, patent medicines, 5-cent cigars, and all manner of things — even ear tags for goats. Carl Nolte, SFChronicle.com, "At the Box SF, previous eras’ castoffs prove valuable today," 8 July 2018 But more than that, widespread opiate use in Victorian America didn’t start with the patent medicines. Jon Kelvey, Smithsonian, "How Advertising Shaped the First Opioid Epidemic," 3 Apr. 2018 Carter’s little pills began as Carter’s Little Liver Pills, a patent medicine developed in 1868 by Erie, Pennsylvania’s Samuel J. Carter. Caroline Rogers, Southern Living, "The History of Carter’s Little Pills," 31 Jan. 2018 Many patent medicines ended up relying on large quantities of morphine or cocaine to give users a high instead of actually healing them. Ben Panko, Smithsonian, "Where Did the FDA Come From, And What Does It Do?," 8 Feb. 2017 That meant people turned to the massive industry of patent medicines, brewed concoctions marketed by people professing medical knowledge. Kat Eschner, Smithsonian, "Coca-Cola’s Creator Said the Drink Would Make You Smarter," 29 Mar. 2017 Originally known as Purdue Frederick, the first iteration of the company was founded in 1892 on New York’s Lower East Side as a peddler of patent medicines. Christopher Glazek, Esquire, "The Secretive Family Making Billions From the Opioid Crisis," 16 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'patent medicine.' 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 patent medicine

1770, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of patent medicine was in 1770

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More Definitions for patent medicine

patent medicine

noun
pat·ent medicine | \ˈpat-ᵊnt-, British usually ˈpāt-\

Medical Definition of patent medicine 

: a packaged nonprescription drug which is protected by a trademark and whose contents are incompletely disclosed also : any drug that is a proprietary

patent medicine

noun

Legal Definition of patent medicine 

: a packaged nonprescription drug which is protected by a trademark and whose contents are incompletely disclosed also : any drug that is a proprietary

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