Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Inducing catharsis; purgative.
  • n. An agent for purging the bowels, especially a laxative.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. purgative; inducing catharsis
  • adj. That releases emotional tension, especially after an overwhelming experience
  • n. A laxative

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Cleansing the bowels; promoting evacuations by stool; purgative.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to the purgative principle of senna, as cathartic acid.
  • n. A medicine that promotes alvine discharges; a purge; a purgative of moderate activity.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Purgative; purifying.
  • Pertaining to or derived from cathartin.
  • n. A cathartic medicine; a purge; a purgative.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. emotionally purging (of e.g. art)
  • adj. emotionally purging
  • adj. strongly laxative
  • n. a purging medicine; stimulates evacuation of the bowels

Etymologies

Late Latin catharticus, from Greek kathartikos, from kathairein, to purge; see catharsis.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek κάθαρσις (katharsis, "cleansing, purification") (Wiktionary)

Examples

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