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Definition of «Nostrum»

Nostrum: A worthless remedy.

"Nostrum" is an example of a term that came from medicine, entered the world beyond medicine, fell into disuse in medicine, but is still used outside medicine.

A nostrum was a medicine of secret composition recommended by the person who concocted it but with no scientific proof of its effectiveness. A patent medicine (or any quack remedy) was a nostrum.

The word "nostrum" entered the English language in 1602 straight from the Latin "nostrum", a form of "noster," meaning "our." It is thought that specially prepared medicines came to be called "nostrums" because their purveyors marketed them as "our own" remedy.

A nostrum came to mean any questionable remedy or scheme for improving matters, a pet plan for accomplishing things, a panacea. In this sense, nostrum has been a part of English since at least 1749.

In 19th-century England it was written that: "Another party's nostrum is, more churches, more schools, more clergymen." In the U.S. the Democrats might claim that a Republican plan to offer tax relief in the expectation that the benefits will "trickle down" to the poor is an unfair and ineffective nostrum. Or the Republicans might label the Democrats' liking for "big government" as a costly and noxious nostrum.

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