tha·​lid·​o·​mide thə-ˈli-də-ˌmīd How to pronounce thalidomide (audio)
: a drug C13H10N2O4 that was formerly used as a sedative and is now used as an immunomodulatory agent especially in the treatment of leprosy and multiple myeloma and that is known to cause malformations of infants born to mothers using it during pregnancy

Examples of thalidomide in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But the detail men recruited more than 1,200 doctors, who gave thalidomide to more than 20,000 Americans. Perri Klass, Washington Post, 23 June 2023 The film is about Frances Kelsey, an employee of the Federal Drug Administration in the 1960s who risked her career to stop morning-sickness drug thalidomide from being approved. Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Aug. 2023 One of the biggest moments was the FDA’s refusal to approve thalidomide as a treatment for morning sickness. Adam Feuerstein and Matthew Herper, STAT, 31 July 2023 But the use of thalidomide during pregnancy in the early 1960s resulted in an increase of babies of both genders born missing limbs. IEEE Spectrum, 30 July 2023 Both conditions are specifically associated with thalidomide. Vanessa Etienne, Peoplemag, 19 July 2023 The drug thalidomide first surfaced in Europe during the 1950s. Vanessa Etienne, Peoplemag, 19 July 2023 When the limb deformities associated with thalidomide were discovered, Kelsey was awarded a medal by President John F. Kennedy. Perri Klass, Washington Post, 23 June 2023 Soon after, the antiemetic thalidomide was determined to cause severe birth defects overseas. Gideon Lewis-Kraus, The New Yorker, 19 June 2023 See More

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

Word History


phthalic acid + -id- (from imide) + -o- + imide

First Known Use

1958, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of thalidomide was in 1958

Dictionary Entries Near thalidomide

Cite this Entry

“Thalidomide.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Medical Definition


tha·​lid·​o·​mide thə-ˈlid-ə-ˌmīd How to pronounce thalidomide (audio) -məd How to pronounce thalidomide (audio)
: a sedative, hypnotic, and antiemetic drug C13H10N2O4 that was formerly used chiefly in Europe during the late 1950s and early 1960s especially to treat morning sickness but was soon withdrawn after being shown to cause serious malformations (as missing or severely shortened arms and legs) in infants born to mothers using it during the first trimester of pregnancy and that is now used as an immunomodulatory agent chiefly in the treatment of cutaneous complications of leprosy and in combination with dexamethasone in the treatment of multiple myeloma

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