catharsis

play
noun ca·thar·sis \ kə-ˈthär-səs \

Definition of catharsis

plural catharses play \-ˌsēz\
2 a :purification or purgation of the emotions (such as pity and fear) primarily through art
b :a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension
3 :elimination of a complex by bringing it to consciousness and affording it expression

Examples of catharsis in a Sentence

  1. She has learned to have her catharsis, take a deep breath and move on.  … she does not dwell on the negative anymore. —Selena RobertsNew York Times24 June 2001
  2. … 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. WillNewsweek25 May 1987
  3. … 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 BroyardNew York Times Book Review14 Nov. 1982
  4. 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 Diary1970
  5. Acting is a means of catharsis for her.

  6. Painting is a catharsis for me.

Recent Examples of catharsis from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'catharsis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 catharsis

New Latin, from Greek katharsis, from kathairein to cleanse, purge, from katharos


CATHARSIS Defined for English Language Learners

catharsis

play
noun

Definition of catharsis for English Language Learners

  • : the act or process of releasing a strong emotion (such as pity or fear) especially by expressing it in an art form


Medical Dictionary

catharsis

noun ca·thar·sis
variants: also katharsis play \kə-ˈthär-səs\

medical Definition of catharsis

plural catharses also katharses play \-ˌsēz\
2 :elimination of a complex by bringing it to consciousness and affording it expression — compare abreaction


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