Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search

English citations of Nobelitis, Nobel-itis, and nobelitis

Noun: "(humorous or derogatory) an overriding or obsessive desire to win a Nobel Prize"[edit]

1974 1977 1982 1986 1988 1997 2002 2011 2019
ME « 15th c. 16th c. 17th c. 18th c. 19th c. 20th c. 21st c.
  • 1974, Roger Lewin, "Transfer RNA researchers argue about 'borrowed' data", New Scientist, 19 September 1974, page 738:
    Relations between research labs in Cambridge England and Cambridge Massachusetts have been under considerable strain during the past few months. The strain has been said to derive from Nobelitis, a disease common in high-powered academic circles during the summer months. And the point at issue concerns who first solved the correct structure of transfer RNA (see this week's Monitor, p 709) – Aaron Klug and his colleagues in England, or Alexander Rich at MIT?
  • 1977, Robert Cooke, Improving on Nature: The Brave New World of Genetic Engineering, page 189:
    One might suspect, too, that one part of this urge to pursue research is associated with that ego-feeding malady known as Nobelitis – the possibility that this creative work will lead, almost inevitably, to Nobel Prizes.
  • 1977, David Suzuki, column published in Science Forum, quoted in The David Suzuki Reader: A Lifetime of Ideas from a Leading Activist and Think (2014), page 163:
    For young scientists who are under enormous pressure to publish to secure a faculty position, tenure or promotion, and for established scientists with “Nobelitis,” the siren's call of recombinant DNA is irresistible.
  • 1982, Chicago Tribune, 27 June 1982, page 149:
    Privately, many scientists were critical. "Hill has 'Nobel-itis,'" said an astronomer who prefered to remain anonymous. "He wants the Nobel so badly that he is jumping the gun."
  • 1986, Robert Kanigel, Apprentice to Genius: The Making of a Scientific Dynasty, page 197:
    Whereas Snyder, to his taste, is a glory-grabbing victim of what he calls "Nobelitis."
  • 1986, Francis Crick, quoted in Eugene Griessman, "DNA's Francis Crick and the stuff science is made of", The Atlanta Constitution, 4 May 1986, page 116:
    I enjoy science. I've gotten much more recognition than I feel I deserve, but I must tell you that some people have got what is called "Nobelitis." They're trying so hard to get a Nobel Prize that it's an embarrassment to everybody.
  • 1986, Paul Silverman, quoted in Walter Truett Anderson, "Biotechnology nearing breakthrough on malaria vaccine", The San Francisco Examiner, 13 August 1986, page 146:
    Another problem is that efforts are fragmented, with researchers in England, New York, Washington, Australia and Berkeley, each tending to go his own way in what one pioneer in the field describes as the solitary pursuit of glory. "There is a fair amount of Nobel-itis in this field," said Dr. Paul Silverman of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.
  • 1988, Sandra Panem, The AIDS Bureaucracy: Why Society Failed to Meet the AIDS Crisis and How We Might Improve Our Response, page 113:
    This precedent, and the lure of the Nobel Prize in contemporary biomedical circles—often called "Nobelitis"—has been interpreted as a perverse incentive underlying extreme competition in AIDS research.
  • 1997, Gina Kolata, "Scientists Split Over Prion Hypothesis", The New York Times, 7 October 1997:
    Dr. Rowher, a skeptic of the prion hypothesis, said the research had been plagued by "paroxysms of Nobel-itis." Now, he said, maybe the researchers can stop fighting for the spotlight and get to work.
  • 1997, Gina Kolata, "Eye on the Nobel; They Should Give A Prize for Ambition", The New York Times, 12 October 1997:
    That should come as no surprise. The Nobel looms like a coronation -- a personal and professional validation (to say nothing of the prize money itself, usually $1 million or more, and the potential for future financial gain). Symptoms of Nobelitis have been spotted even among fledgling scientists still in school.
  • 2002, István Hargittai, The Road to Stockholm: Nobel Prizes, Science, and Scientists, page 5:
    There is a disease, called Nobelitis, that afflicts the person who is close, or thinks he is close, to getting the prize. Then his life centers on this possibility, making him miserable.
  • 2011, Frank Close, The Infinity Puzzle How the Quest to Understand Quantum Field Theory Led to Extraordinary Science, High Politics, and the World's Most Expensive Experiment, page 277:
    What Glashow called the disease of “Nobelitis”–the psychological condition that takes over the minds of scientists who see the finishing line of the Nobel race coming into their view–is a highly selective epidemic in the months between between the major summer conferences and the announcement of the Nobel Price.
  • 2018, Venki Ramakrishnan, Gene Machine: The Race to Decipher the Secrets of the Ribosome, unnumbered page:
    It makes them deeply unhappy and frustrated when, year after year, they fail to get one, and is a disease that I call pre-Nobelitis.
    After the prize, there is post-Nobelitis. Suddenly, scientists are thrust into the limelight and bask in the public adulation that goes with it. They are asked for their opinion on everything under the sun, regardless of their expertise, and it soon goes to their head.
  • 2019, Nicolas Chevassus-au-Louis, Fraud in the Lab: The High Stakes of Scientific Research, page viii:
    It also identifies Nobelitis, “a rare but debilitating condition afflicting only the scientific elite,” which can manifest itself “by auditory hallucinations involving telephone callers with Swedish accents,” generally in the fall (Nobel Prizes are announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in the first two weeks of October), and most often turns into a depressive episode, unless the Nobelitis develops into hyperpromotosis, in which "the recurrent overestimation of the importance of one's findings and the zeal exhibited in broadcasting one's accomplishments are pathognomonic signs."
  • 2019, Peter Higgs, quoted in Why The Universe Exists: How Particle Physics Unlocks the Secrets of Everything, page 60:
    Well, come October when the prize is announced I shall probably suffer from what Nobel winner Sheldon Glashow called Nobelitis. You get jittery.

Noun: "(humorous or derogatory) grandiosity or hubris in a Nobel laureate"[edit]

1985 2002 2011
ME « 15th c. 16th c. 17th c. 18th c. 19th c. 20th c. 21st c.
  • 1985, Noel Polk, "'Polysyllabic and Verbless Patriotic Nonsense': Faulkner at Midcentury–His and Ours", in Faulkner and ideology (eds. Donald M. Kartiganer & Ann J. Abadie), page 313:
    But I certainly don't agree with critics of the late Faulkner who implicitly side with Phil Stone's comment that Faulkner got "Nobelitis in the head," and that his public life in the fifties is a direct expression of an inflated and preening sense of himself as having been certified Wise and so competent to speak on all things.
  • 1985, William Golding, An Egyptian Journal, unnumbered page:
    There has descended on me since I have found myself brought willynilly into the presence of the great ones of the earth an orotundity which I have come to define in my own mind as Nobelitis. The pomposity born of the fact that one is treated as representing more than oneself by someone conscious of representing more than himself.
  • 2002, New Routes, Volumes 7-9, page 14:
    But Canadian politicians and citizens like to think differently. I call it 'Nobelitis'. Ever since Lester Pearson won the Peace Prize, Canadian prime ministers and foreign ministers have seen it as their duty []
  • 2011, J. L. Granatstein, "Gouzenko to Gorbachev: Canada’s Cold War", Canadian Military Journal, Volume 12, Number 1, Winter 2011, page 49:
    After all, it had worked for Lester Pearson, had it not? Did not the Peace Prize help him become Liberal leader and then prime minister? ‘Nobelitis,’ Canadians called it, and not in an unkindly way.

Noun: "(humorous or derogatory) the tendency of some Nobel laureates to advance pseudoscientific or fringe ideas"[edit]

2013 2017
ME « 15th c. 16th c. 17th c. 18th c. 19th c. 20th c. 21st c.
  • 2013, Eleftherios P. Diamandis, "Nobelitis: a common disease among Nobel laureates?", Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, Volume 51, Issue 8, page 1573:
    There are many examples of laureates who seem to suffer from Nobelitis, and I can mention here a few, to make the point. [] One of the most versatile minds of the 20th century, Linus Pauling, a double Nobel Prize winner, claimed that he could cure cancer with mega-doses of vitamin C and was subsequently ridiculed for the sloppy design of his clinical trials, making the point that brilliance in chemistry and ignorance in epidemiological design can bring about disastrous results.
  • 2013, Paul Nurse, "Attention, Nobel Prize winners! Advice from someone who's already won", The Independent, 11 October 2013:
    The Nobel Prize is a tremendous honour and a reflection on the exceptional work done by the recipients, but it doesn’t confer ‘general expert’ status upon those of us lucky enough to be so recognised. Don’t expect that of us, and fellow laureates don’t begin to believe it or you will be in danger of succumbing to Nobelitis.
  • 2017, Sharon A. Hill, Scientifical Americans: The Culture of Amateur Paranormal Researchers, page 110:
    There is a term for those who win Nobel prizes but, perhaps due to ego, go on to stumble badly in other fields: "nobelitis" (Diamandis 2013). Knowledge in one specialized niche can fail to translate to another niche, especially a complex subject with as wide a scope as paranormal subject areas.


  • 2012, Morton Meyers, Prize Fight: The Race and the Rivalry to be the First in Science, page 55:
    Summerlin later attributed his deceptive behavior to a combination of mental and physical exhaustion, a crushing workload, and pressure to publish positive results and obtain grant funding. [] One skeptic thought that Good, who certainly bears some responsibility for promoting undue publicity surrounding Summerlin's claims without adequate authenticated data, "suffered from 'Nobelitis'."