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 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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective There’s something peaceful and almost cathartic about drawing people reading. Françoise Mouly, The New Yorker, 5 July 2021 Unacceptable is an important and cathartic read for parents who are frustrated with the corruption and competition in top college admissions. Dr. Aviva Legatt, Forbes, 30 June 2021 For a boy with a singular talent, drawing was both traumatic and cathartic, a way of taming reality while retreating from it. Soudi Jiménez, Los Angeles Times, 22 June 2021 And Martin the performer continues to hold little back in this painful but cathartic story. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 3 June 2021 It’s so cathartic, all of you screaming on the roof. Rachel Handler, Vulture, 29 Apr. 2021 For Perry, having two buddies to talk with about their own Covid experiences and how her role has changed has been cathartic. Kevin Lin, STAT, 23 June 2021 For Shands, the conversation was cathartic, as others chimed in to offer support. Detroit Free Press, 28 May 2021 For Shands, the conversation was cathartic, as others chimed in to offer support. Detroit Free Press, 28 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Some people find free-writing in a journal cathartic. Molly Longman, refinery29.com, 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.

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

Dictionary Entries Near cathartic

Cathartes

cathartic

cathartid

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for cathartic

Last Updated

8 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cathartic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cathartic. Accessed 29 Jul. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

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!