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

  • adjective Tending to cleanse or purge, especially causing evacuation of the bowels.
  • noun A purgative agent or medicine; a cathartic.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Having the power of cleansing; usually, having the power of evacuating the intestines; cathartic.
  • Having the property, as judicial torture in some cases, of invalidating the evidence against an accused person, when he, under torture, satisfactorily answered the questions of the judges.
  • noun A medicine that evacuates the intestines, producing more or less abundant and watery stools.

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

  • adjective Having the power or quality of purging; cathartic.

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

  • adjective purging
  • noun something, such as a substance or medicine, that purges; laxative

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

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


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • Mystical theology is generally divided into three parts, respectively called the purgative, the illuminative, and the unitive life.

    The Interior Castle or The Mansions 1921

  • These states are also described as the purgative, illuminative, and unitive ways.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 1: Aachen-Assize 1840-1916 1913

  • There are a great many men, even amongst the wisest and strongest of us, who benefit every year of their lives by what might be called the purgative function of literature, -- men who, if they did not have a chance at the right moment to commit certain sins with their imaginary selves, would commit them with their real ones.

    The Lost Art of Reading Gerald Stanley Lee 1903

  • The great value of the oil as a purgative is the mildness and rapidity with

    Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests, Medical, Economical, and Agricultural. Being also a Medical Botany of the Confederate States; with Practical Information on the Useful Properties of the Trees, Plants, and Shrubs 1863

  • Of the three ways leading to perfection the first is called the purgative, and consists in the purifying of the soul; from which, as from a piece of waste ground, we must take away the brambles and thorns of sin before planting there trees which shall bear good fruit.

    The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales Jean Pierre Camus 1618

  • A general idea of the "Exercises" may best be gained from Diertins's summary: After setting forth the end for which God created man and all other things, the book, ever considering this truth as the first foundation, leads us in a short time by the way known as the purgative way to acknowledge the ugliness of the sins which have caused us to stray shamefully from the end, and to cleanse our souls from sin.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 14: Simony-Tournon 1840-1916 1913

  • More than 11.16 billion shares changed hands on the NYSE Composite, record volume -- the kind of purgative selling that some bulls were waiting to see.

    Dow Jones Industrials Lost 18% in Their Worst Week Ever 2008

  • Gustave Colline, who had for a long time past been in intimate relations with a waistcoat maker, whom he was rendering deformed in mind and body by obliging her to sit day and night copying the manuscripts of his philosophical works, asserted that love was a kind of purgative, good to take at the beginning of each season in order to get rid of humors.

    Bohemians of the Latin Quarter Henry Murger 1841

  • Virtue, however, in the full Christian sense of the term, is only possible as we journey through the "purgative" way of the interior life and into what the mystical tradition calls the "illuminative" and "unitive" ways.

    Catholic Exchange 2009

  • "purgative" stage, nor of any ultimate experience of ecstasy; it is simply -- if one may so put it -- a narrative of certain intimate talks with

    Mysticism in English Literature Caroline F. E. Spurgeon 1905


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