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

In this show, which is so often bleak and difficult, Nick’s a part of the narrative that is hopefully cathartic. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Max Minghella Talks Playing the Only Good Man in Gilead on The Handmaid's Tale," 5 July 2018 The former UC Berkeley football player and fine-arts major said his newer style is more cathartic. Ben Brazil, latimes.com, "Laguna’s art festival season arrives Friday with Sawdust and Art-A-Fair," 28 June 2018 After Vegas won the opener, the Capitals capped their four-game surge by rallying from a third-period deficit in this cathartic Game 5, banishing so many years of playoff failure with big goals and rugged play across their lineup. Greg Beacham, Houston Chronicle, "Capitals defeat Golden Knights to earn first Stanley Cup in franchise history," 7 June 2018 Toomey’s guests pay between $2,000 and $6,000 for her cathartic workouts with options for beachside massages and picturesque hikes in spots like Mustique and Mexico. Washington Post, "Wellness travel: It’s more than just staying fit on the road," 5 June 2018 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

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

14 Oct 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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