carminative

adjective

car·​mi·​na·​tive kär-ˈmi-nə-tiv How to pronounce carminative (audio) ˈkär-mə-ˌnā- How to pronounce carminative (audio)
: expelling gas from the stomach or intestines so as to relieve flatulence or abdominal pain or distension
carminative noun

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In times gone by, human personalities were believed to be controlled by four humors: blood, phlegm, choler (yellow bile), and melancholy (black vile). Though this belief was long ago discredited, its influence lingers on in the English language. When "carminative" came into use in the 15th-century medical field, carminative agents were thought to be effective because they influenced the humors. The word comes from Latin carrere, meaning "to card," referring to the act of cleansing or disentangling. This history reflects the theory that certain humors could be "combed out" like knots in wool.

Word History

Etymology

French carminatif, from Latin carminatus, past participle of carminare to card, from *carmin-, *carmen card, from carrere to card; akin to Lithuanian karšti to card

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of carminative was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near carminative

Cite this Entry

“Carminative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/carminative. Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Medical Definition

carminative

1 of 2 adjective
car·​mi·​na·​tive kär-ˈmin-ət-iv How to pronounce carminative (audio) ˈkär-mə-ˌnāt- How to pronounce carminative (audio)
: expelling gas from the stomach or intestines so as to relieve flatulence or abdominal pain or distension

carminative

2 of 2 noun
: a carminative agent
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