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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Attendees are encouraged to bring along their ex's clothing for Torchy's cathartic bonfire. CBS News, ""Torch" your ex's clothes at Torchy's Tacos singles' party this Valentine's Day," 7 Feb. 2020 Watching GrandPOObear beat a level that seemed impossible at first was cathartic. Sam Greszes, Washington Post, "Waiting and watching: How brutally difficult Mario levels helped me through my mom’s stroke recovery," 20 Jan. 2020 Writing my story was very cathartic, but sharing my story — even a glimpse — people respond. Sonja Haller, USA TODAY, "Andrea Barber played carefree Kimmy Gibbler. But she was battling a 'slow spiral' of depression," 12 Nov. 2019 In addition to the cathartic unifying act of the expulsion, there’s the communal wiping clean of sin, a sort of group Catholic confession. Susan Crawford, WIRED, "Mark Zuckerberg Plays the Scapegoat for Our Facebook Sins," 17 Apr. 2018 Season one felt like an upsetting and cathartic ride, culminating in the viewer being forced to come to grips with who Joe really is. Katherine J Igoe, Marie Claire, "Netflix's 'You’ Is a Gorgeous, Thrilling Show — With an Ugly Problem," 18 Dec. 2019 Born and raised in Chicago, Juice made rap music in the Midwest emo mold: dispirited, melodic, cathartic. Briana Younger, The New Yorker, "The Beautiful Vulnerability of Juice WRLD," 9 Dec. 2019 Sharing all that feels vulnerable, but also cathartic. Evan Real, The Hollywood Reporter, "Paula Abdul Talks "Very Personal" Las Vegas Residency and Paving the Way for Today's Pop Stars," 31 Oct. 2019 His is an optimum production — a ritualistically purifying immersion that is clarifying, terrifying and cathartic. Matt Cooper, Los Angeles Times, "Theater in L.A. this week: Mike Birbiglia, ‘Department of Dreams’ and more," 16 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cathartic

Time Traveler for cathartic

Time Traveler

The first known use of cathartic was in 1612

See more words from the same year

Statistics for cathartic

Last Updated

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cathartic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cathartics. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on cathartic

What made you want to look up cathartic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!