ape·​ri·​ent ə-ˈpir-ē-ənt How to pronounce aperient (audio)
: gently moving the bowels : laxative
aperient noun

Word History


borrowed from Medieval Latin aperient-, aperiens, going back to Latin, present participle of aperīre "to open, free from obstacles," from ap-, variant of ab- ab- + pre-Latin *-wer-je- "open or close (as specified by prefix)," going back to Indo-European *Hu̯er-, whence also, with various ablaut grades, Lithuanian àtveriu, atvérti "to open," Old Church Slavic zavĭrǫ, zavrěti "to close, bar," otvoriti "to open," Sanskrit vṛnoti "(it) covers, surrounds," apāvṛnoti "(s/he) opens, uncovers," apīvṛta- "concealed"

Note: Neither the apparent devoicing of the prefixes in aperīre and operīre before /w/ (cf. āvehere, obvenīre) nor the voicing of ab and ob itself—given that their Indo-European congeners generally lack voicing—admit of easy explanation. The base *Hu̯er- (with a laryngeal deduced from its lengthening of the prefix vowel in Sanskrit) may be identical to *u̯er-, "halt, check, avert" (see weir), if an original sense "cover, shield" developed the sense "halt, check"; there is no formal difference in the verbs in Indo-Iranian.

First Known Use

1626, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of aperient was in 1626

Dictionary Entries Near aperient

Cite this Entry

“Aperient.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aperient. Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Medical Definition


1 of 2 adjective
ape·​ri·​ent ə-ˈpir-ē-ənt How to pronounce aperient (audio)
: gently causing the bowels to move : laxative


2 of 2 noun
: an aperient agent
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