a crystalline, slightly water-soluble solid, C 13 H 10 N 2 O 4 , formerly used as a sedative: if taken during pregnancy, it may cause severe abnormalities in the limbs of the fetus.

1955–60; (ph)thal(im)ido(glutari)mide = phthalimide (phthal(ic) + imide) + -o- + glutarimide (glut(en) + (tart)ar(ic) + imide) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
thalidomide (θəˈlɪdəˌmaɪd)
a.  a synthetic drug formerly used as a sedative and hypnotic but withdrawn from the market when found to cause abnormalities in developing fetuses. Formula: C13H10N2O4
 b.  (as modifier): a thalidomide baby
[C20: from thallic + -id- (from imide) + imide]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1958, from "phthalimidoglutarimide," based on abbreviated form of naphthalene; a morning-sickness drug responsible for severe birth defects in Europe from 1956 to 1961, when it was withdrawn. It was never approved for use in America thanks to the efforts of Dr. Helen Brooke Taussig. Thalidomide baby
is attested from 1962.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

thalidomide tha·lid·o·mide (thə-lĭd'ə-mīd')
A sedative and hypnotic drug that was withdrawn from sale after it was found to cause severe birth defects when taken during pregnancy.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
thalidomide   (thə-lĭd'ə-mīd')  Pronunciation Key 
A drug used to treat leprosy. It was previously prescribed to treat nausea during early pregnancy, but was found to cause severe birth defects, including stunting or absence of the limbs. Chemical formula: , C13H10N2O4.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
thalidomide [(thuh-lid-uh-meyed)]

A sedative drug that was developed and used in Europe in the 1960s. Thalidomide was taken off the market when it became evident that it caused severe birth defects in babies born to women who had used the drug during pregnancy.

Note: References to thalidomide are often made when illustrating the dangers of using drugs whose side effects are not well known.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
But ironically, thalidomide has recently seen resurgence on a limited scale as a therapy for multiple myeloma, a deadly disease.
Drug innovation waned once the limiting effects of burdensome government regulation kicked in after the thalidomide tragedy.
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