cathartic

adjective
ca·thar·tic | \ kə-ˈthär-tik \

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 \

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 \-ti-k(ə-)lē \ 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

The writers deal with death frankly and absurdly, making the whole thing hilarious and cathartic. Emily Dreyfuss, WIRED, "9 Emmy-Nominated Shows You Can Binge to Escape Reality," 13 July 2018 No doubt a certain pall hangs over the film, perhaps inevitable with the subject, and aided by the cathartic candor of most interviewees. Graham Ambrose, BostonGlobe.com, "Darkness and light in Whitney Houston documentary," 4 July 2018 For progressives, the spectacle was thrilling, uplifting, and cathartic. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "On Guns, Liberals Are Flirting With the Politics of Fear. That’s Scary.," 22 Feb. 2018 Watching the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale over the last three months hasn’t been an experience anyone would describe as cathartic, or gratifying, or even intermittently escapist. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "A Maddening Season Finale for The Handmaid’s Tale," 11 July 2018 Dopeness: 9/10, very cathartic to see a dinosaur literally use its head to break out of prison. 5. Emma Stefansky, GQ, "The Definitive Jurassic Park Dinosaur Power Rankings," 21 June 2018 Just to be part of such an emotionally unanimous gathering of humanity was cathartic. Doug Maccash, NOLA.com, "Aerosmith sings for the years, laughter and tears at Jazz Fest 2018," 5 May 2018 This Is Us is back — with a feature-length film likewise imbued with cathartic properties. refinery29.com, "The Creator Of This Is Us Wants You To Weep Over Oscar Isaac," 10 July 2018 Which is why the transition to the dance feels so cathartic. Jaya Saxena, GQ, "This Fucked Me Up: David Byrne Dancing with a Lamp," 3 July 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

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

Noun

see cathartic entry 1

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Statistics for cathartic

Last Updated

16 Sep 2018

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 \

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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