sugar pill


: a pharmacologically inert pill : placebo

Example Sentences

Half the patients were given the medication and the other half received a sugar pill.
Recent Examples on the Web Half the patients will receive ruxolitinib, while the other half will receive a sugar pill and supportive care, including ventilation and intravenous fluids. Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 24 June 2020 In the strictest sense, a placebo would be nothing more than a sugar pill, as this allows scientists to determine whether the treatment under study is actively helping people. Olivia Goldhill, Quartz, 28 Mar. 2020 At first the health minister, Agnès Buzyn, seemed to accept the case that patients who pop sugar pills might cut down on antibiotics and other pharmacology, which the French notoriously overconsume. The Economist, 18 July 2019 At best, counterfeit medications aren’t what they are supposed to be, like sugar pills. Sumathi Reddy, WSJ, 8 Oct. 2018 More broadly, the placebo trial, in which some patients receive a sugar pill or solution, is ill-suited to many situations. Kate Bachelder Odell, WSJ, 24 Aug. 2018 Over the years, taking a sugar pill, receiving a sham injection, or even just visiting a doctor has been shown to reduce pain, lower blood pressure, and relieve depression. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, 25 June 2018 Birth control taken continuously, meaning no sugar pills during your period, can really make your hormones haywire. Sarah Hosseini, Good Housekeeping, 12 Mar. 2016 Screenings of the classic 1931 version of Dracula included nurses in the theater and a dose of ‘nerve tonic’ (sugar pills) before the film, Clepper writes in a paper for Film History. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, 31 Oct. 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sugar pill.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1852, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sugar pill was in 1852

Dictionary Entries Near sugar pill

Cite this Entry

“Sugar pill.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Medical Definition

sugar pill


: a pharmacologically inert pill : placebo
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