from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Gently stimulating evacuation of the bowels; laxative.
  • noun A mild laxative.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In medicine, gently purgative; having the quality of opening the bowels; laxative; deobstruent.
  • noun A medicine which gently opens the bowels; a laxative.
  • noun Also aperitive.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective (Med.) Gently opening the bowels; laxative.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective having a gentle laxative effect.
  • noun a laxative, either in the form of a medicine or a food such as hops or asparagus, which has the effect of moving the bowels, or aiding digestion and preventing constipation.

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

  • adjective mildly laxative
  • noun a purging medicine; stimulates evacuation of the bowels


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

[Latin aperiēns, aperient-, present participle of aperīre, to open; see wer- in Indo-European roots.]


  • It will be perfect KGB—as much powder as will fit on the head of a thumbtack, made from the same plant my mother used as an aperient when I was a child.


  • I mention the circumstance here, thinking it probable that this is the first occasion on which the valuable medicine in question was ever used as a conversational aperient.

    American Notes for General Circulation

  • Gerzilin, or sesamum — “wild sesamum,” was shown to us, and is said to be well known among native nurses as a very gentle and tasteless aperient for children.

    A Popular Account of Dr. Livingstone's Expedition to the Zambesi and Its Tributaries

  • Brackish water in the Desert is perhaps salutary to travellers: heated as they are by the journey, and often labouring under obstructions from the quality of their food on the road, it acts as a gentle aperient, and thus supplies the place of medicinal draughts; but the contrary is the case when the same water is used during a continued sedentary residence, when long habit only can accustom the stomach to receive it.

    Travels in Arabia

  • They know how to let blood, and to compound different sorts of aperient medicines.

    Travels in Arabia

  • The water here is bad, and of a strong aperient quality.

    Travels in Arabia

  • The Ageyl said that the best aperient was to drink camel-milk from cups of the scooped-out rind.

    Seven Pillars of Wisdom

  • A dose of bismuth succeeded the aperient, and then I repeated my question.

    The Mummy Case

  • Pouring out a dessert spoonful of the gentle aperient I commonly employ for this ailment, I seized him by the nose and, as his mouth opened in a quest for oxygen, I poured the medicine down his throat.

    The Mummy Case

  • Afterwards, ceasing to possess this aperient property, it is calculated solely for affording nutrition; and finally, at a certain period from delivery, it gradually becomes impoverished, loses its former healthy qualities altogether, and acquires others which are injurious to life.

    Remarks on the Subject of Lactation


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  • See aspergent for a citation.

    July 29, 2008