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Merck Manual

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Placebo: I Shall Please

Placebo: I Shall Please

In Latin, placebo means “I shall please.” In 1785, the word placebo first appeared in a medical dictionary as “a commonplace method or medicine.” Two editions later, the placebo had become “a make-believe medicine,” allegedly inactive and harmless. Now, the profound effects of placebos, both good and bad, are well known.