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.
Origin and Etymology of purgative
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
Recent Examples of purgative from the Web
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.
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.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'purgative.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
First Known Use of purgative
PURGATIVE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of purgative for English Language Learners
medical : a medicine or food that causes the bowels to empty
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up purgative? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).