Borrowing from Latin pābulum (“food, nourishment; fodder or pasture for animals; nourishment for the mind, food for thought”), from pā(scō) (“to nourish”) + -bulum (“suffix denoting an instrument”), or directly from Proto-Indo-European *peh₂-dʰlom (*peh₂- (“to protect, shepherd”) + *-dʰlom, variant of *-trom (“suffix denoting a tool or instrument”)).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈpabjʊləm/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈpæbjʊləm/
- Hyphenation: pa‧bu‧lum
- Food or fodder, particularly that taken in by plants or animals.
- Material that feeds a fire.
- (figuratively) Food for thought.
- (figuratively) Bland intellectual fare; an undemanding diet of words.
1907, Robert William Chambers, “Silverside”, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326, page 300:
- At her invitation he outlined for her the succeeding chapters with terse military accuracy ; and what she liked best and best understood was avoidance of that false modesty which condescends, turning technicality into pabulum.
2017 March 1, Anthony Zurcher, “Trump addresses Congress: A kinder, gentler president”, in BBC News, archived from the original on 5 June 2017:
- As this was largely a traditionally crafted speech, there were some painful cliches and political pabulum to which a typical politician might be prone, of course.
- (bland intellectual fare): pablum
- food, nourishment, sustenance
- (of animals) fodder, pasture
- (figuratively) nourishment for the mind, food for thought
- pabulum in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
- pabulum in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
- du Cange, Charles (1883), “pabulum”, in G. A. Louis Henschel, Pierre Carpentier, Léopold Favre, editors, Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (in Latin), Niort: L. Favre
- “pabulum” in Félix Gaffiot’s Dictionnaire Illustré Latin-Français, Hachette (1934)