Simple Definition of catharsis
: the act or process of releasing a strong emotion (such as pity or fear) especially by expressing it in an art form
Full Definition of catharsis
plural catharses play \-ˌsēz\
Examples of catharsis in a sentence
She has learned to have her catharsis, take a deep breath and move on. … she does not dwell on the negative anymore. —Selena Roberts, New York Times, 24 June 2001
… malevolence is expressed in his decision to absent himself from the courtroom, thereby denying some victims of his torture the catharsis of compelling him to hear their stories of survival. —George F. Will, Newsweek, 25 May 1987
… there's the need for catharsis. If you play it all back a second time, you may wear away some of the pain, as you wear away a record with replaying. —Anatole Broyard, New York Times Book Review, 14 Nov. 1982
As soon as we emerged from the gates of the White House, I became aware of that sea of faces. … I wanted to cry for them and with them, but it was impossible to permit the catharsis of tears. —Lady Bird Johnson, 24 Nov. 1963, in A White House Diary, 1970
Acting is a means of catharsis for her.
Painting is a catharsis for me.
Word History of catharsis and cathartic
Catharsis and cathartic both trace to the Greek word kathairein, meaning “to cleanse, purge.” Catharsis entered English as a medical term having to do with purging the body—and especially the bowels—of unwanted material. The adjective cathartic entered English with a meaning descriptive of such a physically cleansing purge. It didn’t take long for people to start using these words figuratively in reference to emotional release and spiritual cleansing.
Origin of catharsis
New Latin, from Greek katharsis, from kathairein to cleanse, purge, from katharos
First Known Use: circa 1775
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up catharsis? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).