sugar pill


: a pharmacologically inert pill : placebo

Examples of sugar pill in a Sentence

Half the patients were given the medication and the other half received a sugar pill.
Recent Examples on the Web In a cynical, despairing world, a sugar pill that calls itself a sugar pill might be the sweetest thing around. Tom Vanderbilt, WIRED, 19 Dec. 2023 The process was similar to a clinical trial for a new drug, in which some patients are randomly assigned the new drug and others are assigned an older drug or a sugar pill. Time, 18 Aug. 2023 In drug trials, a look-alike sugar pill and a test drug are randomly assigned to participants, but there’s no equivalent of a sugar pill for enrichment activities. Han Yu, WSJ, 25 Feb. 2021 In this context, my door-locking was less practical than ritual, one that brought me some inchoate sense of safety and wellbeing, like a psychic sugar pill. Hazlitt, 5 Apr. 2023 Neither was a daily sugar pill. Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 For example, a sugar pill or an injection of saline solution may be used instead of a dose of the drug. Zoe McLaren, Discover Magazine, 28 May 2020 The most basic argument for this, put forth by medical device makers and regulators, is that mimicking an invasive procedure is far more difficult than handing patients a sugar pill. Lizzy Lawrence, STAT, 16 Mar. 2023 Placebo is well accounted for; these trials always include a large placebo group in which patients are given a sugar pill or other fake treatment. Elizabeth Preston, Discover Magazine, 17 July 2012

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sugar pill.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 16 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition

sugar pill

: a pharmacologically inert pill : placebo
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