Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A medicine whose effectiveness is unproved and whose ingredients are usually secret; a quack remedy.
  • n. A favorite but usually ineffective remedy for problems or evils.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A medicine or remedy in conventional use which has not been proven to have any desirable medical effects.
  • n. An ineffective but favorite remedy for a problem, usually involving political action.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A medicine, the ingredients of which are kept secret for the purpose of restricting the profits of sale to the inventor or proprietor; a quack medicine.
  • n. Any scheme or device proposed by a quack.
  • n. Any scheme asserted to solve a problem, but with no objective basis for belief in its effectiveness; esp., in politics, a scheme or proposal likely to prove popular with voters.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A medicine the ingredients of which, and the method of compounding them, are kept secret, for the purpose of restricting the profits of sale to the inventor or proprietor; especially, a quack medicine.
  • n. Hence Any scheme or device of a quack or charlatan.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. hypothetical remedy for all ills or diseases; once sought by the alchemists
  • n. patent medicine whose efficacy is questionable

Etymologies

From Latin nostrum (remedium), our (remedy), neuter of noster; see nes-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin nostrum ("ours"), nominative neuter of noster ("our, ours"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • At the end of the day, discounting products is nothing more than a short-term nostrum for a problem that is much more severe and will benefit no one in the end if it isn't accompanied by making sure that there were patients to inject these products into.

    Healthcare Sector and Stocks Analysis from Seeking Alpha

  • Jail is the conventional and time-honored nostrum, which is administered with a glow of moral self-esteem, and no more thought about it.

    The Subterranean Brotherhood

  • The nostrum, in fact truism, that countries cannot really devalue their way to prosperity is important to bear in mind.

    The Down Side of Very Low Interest Rates Over Time

  • None of this is surprising, though it does dismantle the liberal nostrum that a new entitlement will somehow reduce health spending.

    National Health Preview

  • May I take this opportunity to wish all NLM readers a very happy and blessed Easter, in the words of the EF Martyrology: Hac die, quam fecit Dominus, Solemnitas solemnitatum, et Pascha nostrum: Resurrectio Salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi secundum carnem.

    Papal Easter Day Mass and Urbi et Orbi Blessing

  • It was said to be a nostrum for "haemorrhage, dysentery, diarrohea, poisoning, plague, and nosebleeds."

    Richard Bangs: Here Be Dragons: Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland, Part 3

  • "Privatization" is a crowd-pleasing nostrum for public officials seeking to shed the budgetary cost of programs and services that they nevertheless know to be a public responsibility.

    Essays/Opinions

  • It's a nostrum of medical education that the patient's history provides the diagnosis ninety per cent of the time, the examination nine percent of the time, and lab tests one per cent of the time.

    Kevin Patterson - An interview with author

  • The conservative nostrum of "personal responsibility" is, thus, being taken to a whole new extreme.

    Jonathan Weiler: There He Goes Again

  • There were so many changes to measure that Google discarded the traditional scientific nostrum that only one experiment should be conducted at a time, with all variables except the one tested being exactly the same in the control group and the experimental group.

    In the Plex

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Comments

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  • Citation on crawler.

    September 18, 2008

  • Meaning: A usually questionable remedy or scheme ; panacea

    November 20, 2007

  • This experiment is an ineffective nostrum.

    November 20, 2007

  • snake oil

    April 19, 2007