placebo

noun
pla·​ce·​bo | \ plə-ˈsē-(ˌ)bō How to pronounce placebo (audio) \
plural placebos

Definition of placebo

1a : a usually pharmacologically inert preparation prescribed more for the mental relief of the patient than for its actual effect on a disorder
b : an inert or innocuous substance used especially in controlled experiments testing the efficacy of another substance (such as a drug)
2 : something tending to soothe

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Did You Know?

Doctors doing research on new treatments for disease often give one group a placebo while a second group takes the new medication. Since those in the placebo group usually believe they're getting the real thing, their own hopeful attitude may bring about improvement in their condition. Thus, for the real drug to be considered effective, it must produce even better results than the placebo. Placebos have another use as well. A doctor who suspects that a patient's physical symptoms are psychologically produced may prescribe a placebo in the hope that mentally produced symptoms can also be mentally cured.

Examples of placebo in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Consuming 3 grams of powdered ginger per day helped patients improve their glycemic indices compared to a placebo, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "The 5 Best Health Benefits of Ginger Water," 11 Jan. 2019 Additional research has suggested ginger is more effective at relieving pain than a placebo when taken during the first three or four days of your cycle. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "The 5 Best Health Benefits of Ginger Water," 11 Jan. 2019 The five that got the placebo didn’t—as was expected. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Probiotics: If you don’t just poop them out, they may muck up your guts," 8 Sep. 2018 Jefferies analyst Michael Yee said in a research note the key results were in line with investor expectations, but some aspects were mixed, such as lower doses showing worse outcomes than a placebo. Peter Loftus, WSJ, "Alzheimer’s Drug Shows Benefit, But Some Experts Say More Testing Needed," 25 July 2018 The majority involve fewer than 100 subjects, and only a handful meet the gold standard of scientific testing, says Williams — that is, being double-blinded and placebo-controlled to squash the potential for bias. Jolene Edgar, Allure, "The Truth About Growth Factors in Skin Care and Why They're Controversial," 2 Aug. 2018 Newsletter Sign-up A majority of the participants were given AR101 in escalating daily doses and then a maintenance dose for several months, while the rest took a placebo. Peter Loftus, WSJ, "Experimental Drug Shows Promise Protecting Against Peanut Allergies," 18 Nov. 2018 Other results stood out: Fewer women in the drug group were found to have cancer — 84 versus 121 in the placebo group. Marilynn Marchione, The Seattle Times, "Study suggests more older women may benefit from bone drugs," 1 Oct. 2018 When the subjects each returned to the fMRI machine to repeat the initial portion of the experiment, the placebo group felt less physical pain and felt better emotionally than the control group. Hannah Orenstein, Seventeen, "Scientists Discovered the Trick to Actually Getting Over Your Ex," 27 Apr. 2017

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

1785, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for placebo

Latin, I shall please

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Statistics for placebo

Last Updated

31 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for placebo

The first known use of placebo was in 1785

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More Definitions for placebo

placebo

noun

English Language Learners Definition of placebo

medical : a pill or substance that is given to a patient like a drug but that has no physical effect on the patient

placebo

noun
pla·​ce·​bo | \ plə-ˈsē-(ˌ)bō How to pronounce placebo (audio) \
plural placebos

Medical Definition of placebo

1 : a usually pharmacologically inert preparation prescribed more for the mental relief of the patient than for its actual effect on a disorder
2 : an inert or innocuous substance used especially in controlled experiments testing the efficacy of another substance (as a drug)

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on placebo

Spanish Central: Translation of placebo

Nglish: Translation of placebo for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of placebo for Arabic Speakers

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