Definitions

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

  • n. A food or drug that stimulates evacuation of the bowels.
  • adj. Stimulating evacuation of the bowels.
  • adj. Causing looseness or relaxation, especially of the bowels.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having the effect of moving the bowels, or aiding digestion and preventing constipation.
  • n. Any substance, such as a food or in the form of a medicine which has a laxative effect.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having a tendency to loosen or relax.
  • adj. Having the effect of loosening or opening the intestines, and relieving from constipation; -- opposed to astringent.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Loose; soft; easy.
  • In medicine, having the power or quality of relieving from constipation by relaxing or opening the intestines. Compare cathartic, 1.
  • n. A medicine that relieves from costiveness by relaxing the intestines; a gentle purgative.

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

  • n. a mild cathartic
  • adj. stimulating evacuation of feces

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French laxatif, from Medieval Latin laxātīvus, preventing constipation, from Late Latin, assuaging, from Latin laxātus, past participle of laxāre, to relax, from laxus, loose; see lax.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

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