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From Latin nocēbō(I will harm), first-person singular future active indicative of noceō(I harm), by analogy with placebo.


nocebo (plural nocebos)

  1. (pharmacology) A substance which a patient experiences as harmful due to previous negative perception, but which is in fact pharmacologically (medicinally) inactive.
    • 1961, Walter P. Kennedy, “The nocebo reaction”, in Medical World[1], volume 95, September, page 203:
      It is somewhat surprising that little attention has been drawn to the existence of the contrary effect [to the placebo] — which I may call the nocebo reaction.
    • 2009, Stuart Blackman, "Why health warnings can be bad," Financial Times, 25 Apr. (retrieved 12 May 2009):
      In the case of the nocebo, it is negative expectations that become self-fulfilling prophecies.
    • 2014, Jennifer Welsh, "Researchers Who Provided Key Evidence For Gluten Sensitivity Have Now Thoroughly Shown That It Doesn't Exist," Business Insider, 15 May 2014):
      It seems to be a "nocebo" effect — the self-diagnosed gluten sensitive patients expected to feel worse on the study diets, so they did.


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