cathartic

adjective
ca·​thar·​tic | \ kə-ˈthär-tik How to pronounce cathartic (audio) \

Definition of cathartic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of, relating to, or producing catharsis cathartic drugs a cathartic experience

cathartic

noun
ca·​thar·​tic | \ kə-ˈthär-tik How to pronounce cathartic (audio) \

Definition of cathartic (Entry 2 of 2)

: a medicine that causes the bowels to be purged (see purge entry 1 sense 2a) : purgative

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Other Words from cathartic

Adjective

cathartically \ kə-​ˈthär-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce cathartically (audio) \ adverb

Word History of Catharsis and Cathartic

Adjective

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.

Examples of cathartic in a Sentence

Adjective

There's something cathartic about a punch in the nose. — Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated, 28 Jan. 2002 But Vietnam is hard to sell as a tidy, cathartic morality tale of troubled times overcome. — Jennifer Homans, New Republic, 2 & 9 Dec. 2002 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 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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Nails 17 Slides Few things are more cathartic than painting your own nails—and more infuriating than to have them chip or smudge minutes later. Glamour, "17 Ways You’re Accidentally Messing Up Your Nails," 12 Mar. 2019 More Essays When a donor is deceased, the interaction with the family always reminds me how wonderful and cathartic the donation process can be. Joshua Mezrich, WSJ, "Losing the Humanity of Transplants," 18 Jan. 2019 Tyner believes hip-hop rose from the ashes of low-income neighborhoods and evolved into an art form that was not only cathartic but relatable and infectious. Brandon T. Harden, Philly.com, "Rare interviews of Run DMC, The Roots, Jay-Z, and others have been unearthed through this Philly radio host's new podcast," 25 Apr. 2018 Honestly, a good cry in public can be pretty cathartic. Emily Wang, Teen Vogue, "Sophie Turner Explains Crying While in New York City With Joe Jonas," 17 Aug. 2018 Feminasty is cathartic, hilarious, enlightening, and rage-provoking. Erin Gibson, Glamour, "I Tossed $2,500 Worth of Makeup and Started Over With All Women-Owned Brands," 25 Sep. 2018 That of-the-minute aesthetic makes Annihilation Nation frequently cathartic. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Assassination Nation is a vicious, cathartic horror film about misogyny," 21 Sep. 2018 Maybe that’s what makes our moments of outward happiness seem so cathartic, so revolutionary. Tyrone Beason / Columnist, The Seattle Times, "Joy, peace feed black revolution in artist Natasha Marin’s new West Seattle exhibit," 19 Aug. 2018 In a society haunted by violence, lynchings are cathartic acts meant to reimpose order, said Gema Santamaría, an author on extralegal justice in Latin America and adviser to the U.N. on the issue. Samantha Pearson, WSJ, "In Latin America, Awash in Crime, Citizens Impose Their Own Brutal Justice," 6 Dec. 2018

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

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First Known Use of cathartic

Adjective

1612, in the meaning defined above

Noun

1651, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cathartic

Adjective and Noun

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

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Statistics for cathartic

Last Updated

1 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cathartic

The first known use of cathartic was in 1612

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More Definitions for cathartic

cathartic

adjective
ca·​thar·​tic | \ kə-ˈthärt-ik How to pronounce cathartic (audio) \

Medical Definition of cathartic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of, relating to, or producing catharsis

cathartic

noun

Medical Definition of cathartic (Entry 2 of 2)

: a cathartic medicine : purgative

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More from Merriam-Webster on cathartic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cathartic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cathartic

Spanish Central: Translation of cathartic

Nglish: Translation of cathartic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about cathartic

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