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

  • noun The act of purging or purifying.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The act of purging; clearing, cleansing, or purifying by separating and carrying away impurities or whatever is extraneous or superfluous; purification; specifically, evacuation of the intestines by purgatives.
  • noun The act of cleansing from the imputation of guilt; specifically, in old law, the clearing of one's self from a crime of which one has been publicly suspected and accused.

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

  • noun The act of purging; the act of clearing, cleansing, or putifying, by separating and carrying off impurities, or whatever is superfluous; the evacuation of the bowels.
  • noun (Law) The clearing of one's self from a crime of which one was publicly suspected and accused. It was either canonical, which was prescribed by the canon law, the form whereof used in the spiritual court was, that the person suspected take his oath that he was clear of the matter objected against him, and bring his honest neighbors with him to make oath that they believes he swore truly; or vulgar, which was by fire or water ordeal, or by combat. See Ordeal.

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

  • noun the act of purging, especially by the use of a purgative
  • noun cleansing from sin or guilt

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

  • noun purging the body by the use of a cathartic to stimulate evacuation of the bowels
  • noun a ceremonial cleansing from defilement or uncleanness by the performance of appropriate rites
  • noun the act of clearing yourself (or another) from some stigma or charge


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • It's not a light read, but it is a very complete and thought provoking discussion of how the manipulation of hope (to motivate people to contribute to the church to save the newly categorized souls in purgation) and fear (the explicit construction of a devil, of hell, and of what you had to do to get there) was managed, out of pretty thin sources in the bible.

    Boing Boing: August 13, 2006 - August 19, 2006 Archives 2006

  • And the purgation was a recantation, which began thus, --

    Phaedrus 427? BC-347? BC Plato 1855

  • Recovery has a sort of story in the progress of its confessions: confession is the chief method of treatment in the clinic for alcoholics that is its setting, confession repeated and repeated until, supposedly, some kind of purgation takes place.

    Last Testament Thompson, John 1973

  • a purgation, that is, by way of Epitome, to cut all ouer much away.

    The Scholemaster 1570

  • a purgation, that is, by way of _Epitome_, to cut all ouer much away.

    The Schoolmaster Roger Ascham 1541

  • So, too, a deliberate self-simplification, a "purgation" of the heart and will, is demanded of those who would develop the form of consciousness called "mystical."

    Practical Mysticism 1875-1941 1915

  • And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep Still threatening to devour me, opens wide, finding, as Aristotle would have said, relief and even comfort in the "purgation" through poetry, of the passions of pity and terror.

    The Adventure of Living : a Subjective Autobiography John St. Loe Strachey 1893

  • Only a few days ago a friend of ours, who is an LL. D., had to undergo this "purgation," and it nearly cost him his reason.

    From the Caves and Jungles of Hindostan 1861

  • But we cannot therefore say that the spiritual nature is not susceptible of a healing and purgation which is absolutely perfect, to which the cleansing or health of the body is no true analogy.

    Sermons. Volume the Second. 1808-1892 1848

  • For in nature as in simple bodies, when there is an accumulation of much superfluous matter, it very often moves by itself and makes a purgation which is healthy to that body; and so it happens in this compound body of the human race, that when all the provinces are full of inhabitants so that they cannot live or go elsewhere in order to occupy and fill up all places, and when human astuteness and malignity has gone as far as they can go, it happens of necessity that the world purges itself in one of the three ways, so that men having been chastised and reduced in number, live more commodiously and become better.

    Discourses 2003


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  • "Alas, alas! Doctor Fustian quotha? Mass, Doctor Lopus was never such a doctor. Has given me a purgation has purg’d me of forty dollars; I shall never see them more. But yet, like an ass as I was, I would not be ruled by him, for he bade me I should ride him into no water."

    - Christopher Marlowe, 'Dr. Faustus'.

    September 8, 2009