Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary
1

cathartic

play
adjective ca·thar·tic \kə-ˈthär-tik\

Definition of cathartic

  1. :  of, relating to, or producing catharsis <cathartic drugs> <a cathartic experience>

cathartically

play \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb


Examples of cathartic in a sentence

  1. There's something cathartic about a punch in the nose. —Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated, 28 Jan. 2002

  2. But Vietnam is hard to sell as a tidy, cathartic morality tale of troubled times overcome. —Jennifer Homans, New Republic, 2 & 9 Dec. 2002

  3. Many veterans, at first reluctant to speak, ultimately uncorked their emotions in a cathartic explosion. —Stanley Karnow, New York Times Book Review, 22 Nov. 1992

  4. It provokes no healthy tears, whereas Cervantes never fails … to open the cathartic floodgates. —Anthony Burgess, Homage to Qwert Yuiop: Selected Journalism 1978-1985, 1986



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 and Etymology of cathartic

Late Latin or Greek; Late Latin catharticus, from Greek kathartikos, from kathairein (see catharsis)


First Known Use: 1612

Rhymes with cathartic


2

cathartic

play
noun ca·thar·tic \kə-ˈthär-tik\

Definition of cathartic

  1. :  a medicine that causes the bowels to be purged :  purgative



Origin and Etymology of cathartic

(see 1cathartic)


First Known Use: 1651


Medical Dictionary

1

cathartic

play
adjective ca·thar·tic \kə-ˈthärt-ik\

Medical Definition of cathartic

  1. :  of, relating to, or producing catharsis




2

cathartic

noun ca·thar·tic

Medical Definition of cathartic

  1. :  a cathartic medicine :  purgative




Learn More about cathartic


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up cathartic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to criticize in a loud and angry way

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

confounded-person

Which is a synonym of indolent?

frenetic lazy philistine melancholy
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ