Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

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

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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.
  • noun Hence Any scheme or device of a quack or charlatan.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun 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.
  • noun Any scheme or device proposed by a quack.
  • noun 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 Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[From Latin nostrum (remedium), our (remedy), neuter of noster; see nes- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin nostrum ("ours"), nominative neuter of noster ("our, ours").

Examples

Comments

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  • snake oil

    April 19, 2007

  • This experiment is an ineffective nostrum.

    November 20, 2007

  • Meaning: A usually questionable remedy or scheme ; panacea

    November 20, 2007

  • Citation on crawler.

    September 18, 2008