purgative

1 of 2

adjective

pur·​ga·​tive ˈpər-gə-tiv How to pronounce purgative (audio)
: purging or tending to purge

purgative

2 of 2

noun

: a purging medicine : cathartic

Did you know?

Purgative can be used as a noun as well as an adjective. For centuries, doctors prescribed purgatives—that is, laxatives—for all kinds of ailments, not knowing anything better to do. Physical cleansing has always reminded people of emotional and spiritual cleansing, as expressed in the saying "Cleanliness is next to godliness". So we may say, for example, that confession has a purgative effect on the soul. Some psychologists used to claim that expressing your anger is purgative; but in fact it may generally be no better for your emotional life than taking a laxative, and can sometimes really foul things up.

Examples of purgative in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Sensing the wound in our collective consciousness, the Tom-ness of Cruise acts as both purgative and balm. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, 7 July 2023 That demon was kicky and gross and fun and purgative. Wesley Stenzel, EW.com, 19 Jan. 2023 By her mid-twenties, Hanawalt had moved to New York and turned her purgative art into a profession. The New Yorker, 15 Aug. 2021 It is believed that one of her purgative acts, on becoming Anna Kavan, was to destroy most of her letters and diaries. Leo Robson, The New Yorker, 23 Mar. 2020 Taking out the trash is like administering a purgative to my house. Washington Post, 28 Oct. 2019 Saline police chief Jerrod Hart said management got a tip from an employee who had been made aware of the brownies’ purgative properties, and after confiscating the offending baked goods, contacted the authorities. Madeleine Aggeler, The Cut, 15 May 2018
Noun
Or merely the tall-tale purgative of a frantic Purgatorian? Tom Nolan, WSJ, 11 June 2021 Blackshirts forced their opponents to drink castor oil and other purgatives, and then sent them home, wrenching with pain and covered in their own feces. Michael Ebner, Slate Magazine, 30 Jan. 2017 The persistent and sickening violence of Detroit could work as a powerful purgative, a corrective medicine for deprogramming those who doubt the reality of police brutality. Josephine Livingstone, New Republic, 8 Aug. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'purgative.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English purgatif, from Late Latin purgativus, from Latin purgatus, past participle

First Known Use

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of purgative was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near purgative

Cite this Entry

“Purgative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/purgative. Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

purgative

1 of 2 adjective
pur·​ga·​tive ˈpər-gət-iv How to pronounce purgative (audio)
: tending to act as a strong laxative

purgative

2 of 2 noun
: a strong laxative

Medical Definition

purgative

1 of 2 adjective
pur·​ga·​tive ˈpər-gət-iv How to pronounce purgative (audio)
: purging or tending to purge : cathartic
purgatively adverb

purgative

2 of 2 noun
: a purging medicine : cathartic

More from Merriam-Webster on purgative

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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