Word of the Day : April 6, 2016

mithridate

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noun MITH-ruh-dayt

Definition

: an antidote against poison; especially : a confection held to be effective against poison

Did You Know?

Mithridates the Great was the tyrannical king of Pontus (an ancient kingdom in Northeast Asia Minor) from 120 to 63 B.C.E. He was killed by a Gallic mercenary whose services he himself engaged after failing to poison himself following an insurrection by his troops. Supposedly, his suicide was unsuccessful because he had made himself immune to poison by taking small doses of it since childhood in an attempt to avoid the fate of assassination by poison. The story of Mithridates' tolerance is behind the English word mithridate, which dates to the early 16th century, as well as the word mithridatism, defined as "tolerance to a poison acquired by taking gradually increased doses of it."


Examples

"What he wanted, in effect, was a universal antidote, which medical science has for years referred to as a mithridate." — Harold L. Klawans, Newton's Madness, 1990

"Is enough known about the mechanisms of poisoning to construct effective antidotes, or even a universal antidote (a true mithridate), a panacea to all toxic ills?" — Rosemary H. Waring et al., Molecules of Death, 2007



Test Your Memory

What former Word of the Day begins with "th" and refers to a mixture of many drugs and honey formerly held to be an antidote to poison?

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