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Word of the Day
Thursday, November 30, 2017

Definitions for nostrum

  1. a scheme, theory, device, etc., especially one to remedy social or political ills; panacea.
  2. a medicine sold with false or exaggerated claims and with no demonstrable value; quack medicine.
  3. a medicine made by the person who recommends it.

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Citations for nostrum
We begin to find that with individuals, as with nations, the only safe revolution is one arising out of the wants which their own progress has generated. It is the quackery of infidelity to suppose that it has a nostrum for all mankind, and to say to all and singular, "Swallow my opinions and you shall be whole." , "George Eliot to Sara Hennell, October 19, 1843," George Eliot's Life, as related in her Letters and Journals, 1895
He knew how to handle the importunate seeker after patronage or market tips; the reporter sent out to get an indiscreet statement or to steal an indiscreet snapshot; the politician soliciting party funds; the professor of economics armed with a nostrum guaranteed to cure all financial and commercial ills ... Achmed Abdullah, A Romantic Young Man, 1932
Origin of nostrum
In Latin nostrum is a neuter singular possessive pronoun meaning “our.” There is no noun expressed to be qualified, but the noun remedium “cure, medicine, remedy” may be understood. The original sense of nostrum “patent medicine made of secret ingredients” has always had more than a whiff of snake oil about it. The later sense of nostrum, dating from the mid-18th century and meaning “favorite but questionable plan for social or political improvement,” also carries an unfavorable connotation. Nostrum entered English in the early 17th century.