Though you try many medicines that claim to cure your cold, none of them work. They turn out to be nostrums, or ineffective drugs.

Nostrum refers to a cure-all, a drug, or a medicine that is ineffectual. Before drugs were regulated by the government, there were many nostrums sold to the public. “Snake oil” is one of the most well-known. Said to cure any ailment from achy joints to hair loss, snake oil concoctions could contain a number of ingredients — including camphor, red pepper, and turpentine.

Definitions of nostrum
  1. noun

    patent medicine whose efficacy is questionable

    see moresee less

    type of:

    patent medicine

    medicine that is protected by a patent and available without a doctor’s prescription

  2. noun

    hypothetical remedy for all ills or diseases; once sought by the alchemists

    catholicon, cure-all, panacea
    see moresee less



    a substance believed to cure all ills
    elixir of life

    a hypothetical substance believed to maintain life indefinitely; once sought by alchemists
    type of:

    curative, cure, remedy, therapeutic

    a medicine or therapy that cures disease or relieve pain

Word Family