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

Keep scrolling for more

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

The drug’s greatest impact seemed to be in the first year after treatment, when only 7 percent developed type 1 diabetes, compared with 44 percent who received placebo. NBC News, "Experimental drug delays type 1 diabetes in high risk children," 10 June 2019 Forty-three percent of those who got the experimental drug developed diabetes after 5 years, versus 72% of those receiving a placebo. Jennifer Couzin-frankel, Science | AAAS, "In milestone trial, experimental drug delays type 1 diabetes," 9 June 2019 In this study, women who took Kisqali lived an average of 24 months without their disease progressing, compared to 13 months for women who took a placebo. Samantha Lauriello, Health.com, "A New Breast Cancer Treatment Can Extend the Lives of Younger Patients, Study Finds," 4 June 2019 One soldier received a placebo, but three others were given varying doses of the drug. Robert D. Mcfadden, New York Times, "James Ketchum, Who Conducted LSD Experiments on Soldiers, Dies at 87," 3 June 2019 It was also proven to give people 3 times more time without their lung cancer growing or spreading compared with people receiving placebo. Astrazeneca, USA TODAY, "Tapping into the immune system shows promise in stage 3 lung cancer," 3 June 2019 Online discussions threaten to compromise trial integrity when participants join forces to work out who is receiving a placebo. Heidi Ledford, Scientific American, "A Question of Control," 16 May 2019 The aggression literature is easy to misinterpret, but people randomly assigned to use cannabis in the laboratory are no more hostile than those who receive a placebo. WSJ, "Arriving at the Least Bad Marijuana Policy," 11 Jan. 2019 The Expert Says: There's limited scientific evidence on CBD’s effects on anxiety in humans, but that doesn't mean it’s just placebo. The Editors, Marie Claire, "10 Health Issues CBD Could Solve," 17 Apr. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of placebo

1785, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for placebo

Latin, I shall please

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about placebo

Statistics for placebo

Last Updated

23 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for placebo

The first known use of placebo was in 1785

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on placebo

What made you want to look up placebo? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to take the place or position of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!