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 cathartic (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 Swift has written this type of cathartic breakup song before, and, attractive piano melody aside, not much separates this one. Nate Jones, Vulture, "All 179 Taylor Swift Songs, Ranked," 11 Jan. 2021 The screen heroines of 2020 wound up meeting their moment in unexpected and diabolically cathartic ways. Washington Post, "In 2020, women’s pandemic-era rage exploded on screen," 31 Dec. 2020 After all, what is more cathartic that fashionably stomping around the streets (or just around the house)? Cassandra Hogan, Town & Country, "How to Style a Classic: Combat Boots," 20 Dec. 2020 But the opportunity to finally hear live music again after months of lockdown — and the cathartic performances that resulted — proved invaluable. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, "2020 year in review: San Diego’s best concerts (pre- and post-pandemic): From clubs and theaters to drive-in parking lot gigs," 27 Dec. 2020 And so they’re caught in a paradoxical moment, cathartic potential capped until the current disaster passes. Kate Knibbs, Wired, "Can Disaster Movies Survive a Pandemic?," 25 Dec. 2020 But the 2020 albums that did make their way to our streaming services, to our digital collections, and (eventually) to our record players often proved transportive, cathartic, and blessedly escapist. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 50 Best Albums of 2020: Staff Picks," 7 Dec. 2020 This music for us, first and foremost, is therapeutic and cathartic. Ed Masley, The Arizona Republic, "'He's just gonna be huge': Phoenix heavy metal band has one of the top albums of the year," 29 Nov. 2020 But this paradox is pervasive on Chromatica and is perhaps Gaga's way of illustrating that dance music can be cathartic. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "The 63 Best Songs of 2020 That Made Our Lives a Little Easier," 17 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Some people find free-writing in a journal cathartic. Molly Longman, refinery29.com, "How To Manage Your Mental Health After A Week Of Sadness & Chaos," 11 Jan. 2021

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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Time Traveler for cathartic

Time Traveler

The first known use of cathartic was in 1612

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Statistics for cathartic

Last Updated

21 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cathartic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cathartic. Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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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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Comments on cathartic

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