Definitions

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

  • adj. Serving to soothe or soften.
  • n. A soothing, usually mucilaginous or oily substance, such as glycerin or lanolin, used especially to relieve pain in inflamed or irritated mucous membranes.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. soothing or softening
  • n. A soothing medication used to relieve pain in inflamed tissues

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Softening; mollifying; soothing; assuasive.
  • n. A substance, usually of a mucilaginous or oily nature, supposed to be capable of soothing an inflamed nervous membrane, or protecting it from irritation. Gum Arabic, glycerin, olive oil, etc., are demulcents.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Softening; mollifying; soothing: as, a demulcent medicine.
  • n. Any medicine which assuages the effects of irritation; that which softens, soothes, or mollifies, as gums, oils, flaxseed, and other mucilaginous substances.

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

  • adj. having a softening or soothing effect especially to the skin
  • n. a medication (in the form of an oil or salve etc.) that soothes inflamed or injured skin

Etymologies

Latin dēmulcēns, dēmulcent-, present participle of dēmulcēre, to soften : dē-, de- + mulcēre, to stroke.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • Its properties may easily be inferred from the above statement ; they are demulcent, slightly astringent, tonic, and expectorant.

    This is what I was trying to photograph at midnight, in the moonlight.

  • Some of the medicinal properties are emollient, demulcent, laxative, source of linoleic acid; cold-pressed oil is used in salves for muscle pains; leaves in tea are astringent and antiseptic; may lower blood sugar in diabetes and dilate coronary arteries to improve blood circulation.

    Common Medicinal Herbs with Curative Properties

  • Gratia et pulchritudo ita suaviter animos demulcent, ita vehementer alluciunt, et admirabiliter connectuntur, ut in inum confundant et distingui non possunt et sunt tanquam radii et splendores divini solis in rebus variis vario modo fulgentes.

    Anatomy of Melancholy

  • Triphala is also a good liver and blood cleanser and can be used with psyllium seed husks as a bulk-forming, demulcent laxative, if needed.

    THE NATURAL REMEDY BIBLE

  • Although it is perceived as an irritating herb, cayenne in its raw state has demulcent, or soothing properties that result from its high mineral content.

    Gentle Healing for Baby and Child

  • Arrowroot starch possesses demulcent properties and is sometimes used in the treatment of disorders of the intestine.

    Chapter 10

  • Barley water is an astringent or demulcent drink used to reduce laxative condition.

    The Suffrage Cook Book

  • _ -- An emetic of apomorphine; demulcent drinks, such as barley-water, white of egg and water, linseed-tea and gruel (but not oils), with a hypodermic injection of morphine to allay pain.

    Aids to Forensic Medicine and Toxicology

  • Under the name _decoctum hordei_, a preparation of barley is included in the [v. 03 p. 0406] British Pharmacopoeia, which is of value as a demulcent and emollient drink in febrile and inflammatory disorders.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 3, Part 1, Slice 3 "Banks" to "Bassoon"

  • They strengthen the stomach and neutralize all undue acidity, while at the same time they soothe the irritation by their bland and demulcent qualities.

    The Ladies Book of Useful Information Compiled from many sources

Comments

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  • She knew where sour grass grew, which you chew for dypepsy, and mint, excellent for the naushy, and the slippery elm, whose fragrant inner bark was the favourite demulcent of a hundred years ago – the tink to use for raw throat and other sore tishas.
    —James Thurber, 1952, 'Daguerreotype of a Lady', in The Thurber Album (Penguin ed., so BrE conventions)

    (I'm not going to list the dialect representations 'naushy' etc.)

    July 10, 2008