Definition of nostrum in English:


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  • 1A medicine, especially one that is not considered effective, prepared by an unqualified person.

    ‘a charlatan who sells nostrums’
    • ‘This will allow the doctor to help the patient think through the pros and cons of such a decision, to avoid notoriously dangerous or ineffective nostrums, and to monitor for side effects.’
    • ‘It wasn't just that he doubted whether such nostrums would deliver the promised effects although he did doubt this very much.’
    • ‘When his own nostrums failed to effect a cure, William Griggs, a doctor called to examine the girls, suggested that the girls' problems might have a supernatural origin.’
    • ‘The variety of radioactive medical nostrums seemed endless: pastes, plasters, muds, inhalers, drinking water, and so forth.’
    • ‘This sounds like the pitch for a nineteenth-century patent medical nostrum.’
    • ‘The trial has cost the Italian health service $5 million and no credibility remains in this anticancer nostrum.’
    • ‘But it neatly charts the changes in medical orthodoxy, not least since 1986, when a scathing British Medical Association report was still portraying alternative therapies as daffy nostrums peddled by quacks.’
    • ‘His paternal grandfather made a fortune in the States with a nostrum called Brandreth's Pills, which still exist.’
    • ‘Those other ingredients listed are deadly poisons, but bear in mind that they're not really there; just the ‘vibrations’ remain, as with all homeopathic nostrums.’
    • ‘Popular nostrums abound on the Web, but it can be very hard, if not impossible, to find the results of properly vetted, taxpayer-financed science - and in some cases it can be hard for your doctor to find them, too.’
    • ‘To coax a tulip to break, early growers used a variety of entirely useless nostrums, including plaster from old walls, pigeon dung, or water from dung hills.’
    • ‘Stengler describes a multitude of illnesses which herbs, chemicals, homeopathic nostrums, acupuncture, etc. will fix.’
    • ‘Fraudulent doctors and sellers of nostrums have hawked their wares throughout the world since earliest times.’
    • ‘It pains us to see people buying quack nostrums that we can't touch because of the way the law is written.’
    patent medicine, quack remedy, potion, elixir, panacea, cure-all, cure for all ills, universal remedy, sovereign remedy, wonder drug, magic bullet
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    1. 1.1A pet project or favorite remedy, especially one for bringing about some social or political reform or improvement.
      ‘during tough times, populist nostrums gain favor’
      • ‘Rather than rise to the challenge, the trend in intellectual circles has been to adapt to the prevailing rightward shift that has seen the repudiation of all the old nostrums of social reform.’
      • ‘Labor's campaign in Aston was a measure of the party's abandonment of its old nostrums of social reform.’
      • ‘The problem with sorting out proposed educational reforms is that the nostrums, strictures, and recommendations too often reflect personal dispositions more than disinterested analysis.’
      • ‘More and more plainly as the years went by, it reflected disbelief in the nostrums of neo-liberal reform that every government, left or right, unvaryingly proposed to its citizens.’
      • ‘That 27-minute lunch is a result of ‘flexible labour markets’ and other late twentieth century political nostrums.’
      • ‘Among other things, when the economy spirals out of control both parties' remedies tend to be politically shortsighted nostrums that invariably make things worse, not better.’
      • ‘Regardless of any ideological bias, exposure to public choice analysis necessarily brings a more critical attitude toward politicised nostrums to alleged socioeconomic problems.’
      • ‘As to their nostrums and remedies: ‘Virtually everything that was supposed to make things better made things worse,’ he says.’
      • ‘The old right-wing nostrums which befuddled public opinion in the 1980s and 1990s no longer have the same impact.’
      • ‘It is even less respectable when the economic nostrums proposed are no longer (after many intellectual and practical failures) presented as part of scientific economics but are frankly described as political economy.’
      • ‘The traditional strategic nostrums of the past represent an inadequate response to our current range of problems.’
      • ‘The discourse coheres an apparently unrelated array of policy nostrums.’
      • ‘The search for a replacement cause brought with it shallow opportunism, the honing of public relations skills and a ragbag of nostrums, some of them purloined from its political opponents.’
      • ‘These are the kind of men who do the bidding of their political masters, who unthinkingly repeat the nostrums of their own respective cultures.’
      • ‘Not surprisingly Roy King pays particular attention to the considerations which affect the successful negotiation of an acceptable research role and suggests a number of nostrums for the conduct of research in prisons.’
      • ‘All that means is that he is susceptible to every reactionary nostrum floated by right-wing thinktanks.’
      • ‘Our people run after nostrums of cartelization or socialization, though no theorist has succeeded in discovering how to make them work.’
      • ‘We are not trying to revive the reformist nostrums of the past, but work for an independent movement of the working class on an entirely different perspective.’
      • ‘The old nostrums of national reformism are well and truly dead.’
      • ‘The fashionable City nostrum that you can have a single market without any social dimension is simply delusion.’
      remedy, cure, prescription, answer, magic formula, recipe, recipe for success
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/ˈnästrəm/ /ˈnɑstrəm/


Early 17th century from Latin, used in the sense ‘(something) of our own making’, neuter of noster ‘our’.