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 No, the director doesn’t give her much of a life here, either, but the absence of her death — the Manson family members don’t murder Sharon and her house guests on that fateful night in the film — feels somewhat cathartic. Aisha Harris, New York Times, "Sharon Tate Is a Woman in a Tarantino Movie. It’s Complicated.," 7 Aug. 2019 So getting to draw his neck is really cathartic for all of us. Tracy Brown Producer, Los Angeles Times, "What the ‘Steven Universe’ cast thinks the Crystal Gems have been up to since the finale," 25 July 2019 But, from early on, there’s a tingling, cathartic uneasiness to this inversion. Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker, "The Incendiary Aims of HBO’s “Watchmen”," 2 Dec. 2019 That dramatic, cathartic mode certainly still exists. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "When Music’s Sad Boys Chase Happiness," 24 Oct. 2019 What prevails in so many conversations is some kind of seemingly cathartic and certainly depressing mention of how awful life is in the American. Mike Anthony, courant.com, "Mike Anthony: UConn’s move to the Big East should be celebrated, but the AAC doesn’t have to be remembered as some kind of athletic hell," 20 Oct. 2019 The best tracks were cathartic, emotional stuff, like Husker Du meets Billy Bragg for kids too young to get those frames of reference. Ed Masley, azcentral, "Best concerts in Phoenix for November: Post Malone, Cher, Summer Walker, Brockhampton," 1 Nov. 2019 The album, produced by St. Vincent, is a bold new chapter that pushes the musical envelope while responding to the rise of President Donald Trump with a fury that's cathartic. Ed Masley, azcentral, "Best concerts in Phoenix for November: Post Malone, Cher, Summer Walker, Brockhampton," 1 Nov. 2019 Weaknesses: The play’s overwhelming depiction of grief may be cathartic for some and triggering for others. oregonlive, "‘Mother, Come Home’ is a traumatizing and transcendent adaptation of a graphic novel about death and grief," 7 Oct. 2019

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 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cathartic.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cathartic. Accessed 21 January 2020.

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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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