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Coined by Romanian psychologist and chemist Corneliu E. Giurgea in 1972, derived from the Ancient Greek words νόος (nóos, mind) and τροπέω (tropéō, to turn). Equivalent to noos +‎ -tropic, literally mind changing.


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌnoʊəˈtɹoʊpɪk/, /ˌnoʊəˈtɹɑːpɪk/
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nootropic (plural nootropics)

  1. (medicine) Any substance purported to increase or enhance cognitive abilities.
    • 2012 January 30, Ari LeVaux, “Experimenting With Nootropics to Increase Mental Capacity, Clarity”, in The Atlantic[1]:
      Nootropics also include extracted and purified components of medicinal plants, as well as substances synthesized from chemical precursors, such as piracetam, the world's first official nootropic (piracetam was created in 1964 in Belgium by a team of scientists whose leader, Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea, coined the term).
  2. (pharmacology) A drug that enhances learning and memory and lacks the usual pharmacology of other psychotropic drugs (e.g. sedation, motor stimulation) and possesses very few side effects and extremely low toxicity.



See also[edit]


nootropic (comparative more nootropic, superlative most nootropic)

  1. Relating to substances that enhance cognitive performance.
    • 2023 May 28, Alice Lascelles, “What's the buzz?”, in FT Weekend, HTSI, page 61:
      It's triggered and explosion of “functional” drinks featuring adaptogenic and nootropic ingredients; plants that in some cases have been used for thousands of years to boost mood and cognitive performance.