placebo

noun
pla·​ce·​bo | \plə-ˈsē-(ˌ)bō \
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

More than 240 participants were split into two groups — one was given single doses of a topical testosterone gel, while the other was given placebo. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "Testosterone Makes Men Want Luxury Brands and Status Goods, Study Finds," 5 July 2018 The men and women have not experienced complications and are performing better than people in the trial given the placebo or the people serving as controls, researchers say. Alexandra Sifferlin, Time, "There’s Hope for a Vaccine to Prevent Type 1 Diabetes," 21 June 2018 However, some birth control packages also contain placebo pills. Elly Belle, Teen Vogue, "Taytulla Birth Control Recalled," 30 May 2018 The drugmaker said Tuesday the physician sample packs of Taytulla were designed to have 24 active birth control pills, followed by four placebo pills, taken daily over the course of 28 days. Austen Hufford, WSJ, "Allergan Recalls Taytulla Birth-Control Packs After Pills Placed Out of Order," 29 May 2018 After the study period, mortality rates among the children given azithromycin were 5.7% lower in Malawi, 18.1% lower in Niger and 3.4% lower in Tanzania, when compared to those children given the placebo. Mark Lieber, CNN, "Common antibiotic significantly reduces child deaths across Africa," 26 Apr. 2018 For patients given a placebo, 8.1 percent achieved remission. Bradley J. Fikes, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Arena Pharma recovers from weight-loss failure," 22 Mar. 2018 Acetaminophen, for example, was no more effective than a placebo. Daisy Yuhas, Scientific American, "Forget Pills and Surgery for Back Pain," 1 Oct. 2017 Side effects, most commonly gastrointestinal symptoms, were similar in the treatment and placebo groups. Nicholas Bakalar, New York Times, "Probiotics May Be Good for Your Bones," 3 July 2018

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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Learn More about placebo

Statistics for placebo

Last Updated

10 Nov 2018

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 \
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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