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[sed-uh-tiv] /ˈsɛd ə tɪv/
tending to calm or soothe.
allaying irritability or excitement; assuaging pain; lowering functional activity.
a sedative drug or agent.
Origin of sedative
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English (adj.) (< Middle French sédatif) < Medieval Latin sēdātīvus, equivalent to Latin sēdāt(us) (see sedate) + -īvus -ive
Related forms
unsedative, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sedative
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This piece of information had by no means a sedative effect.

    An Old Sailor's Yarns Nathaniel Ames
  • Used as a sedative in tincture; ten to twenty drops in water.

    Cattle and Their Diseases Robert Jennings
  • And added, "Indeed, what can we do for sorrow except give the body a sedative?"

    Mary Gray Katharine Tynan
  • If she had possessed any sedative drug she would have taken it.

    Beyond John Galsworthy
  • I brought her here for a sedative; but I find it is no such matter.

    Daisy Elizabeth Wetherell
British Dictionary definitions for sedative


having a soothing or calming effect
of or relating to sedation
(med) a sedative drug or agent
Word Origin
C15: from Medieval Latin sēdātīvus, from Latin sēdātus assuaged; see sedate1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sedative

"tending to calm or soothe," early 15c., from Medieval Latin sedativus "calming, allaying," from sedat-, past participle stem of sedare, causative of sedere "to sit" (see sedentary). The noun derivative meaning "a sedative drug" is attested from 1785. Hence, "whatever soothes or allays."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sedative in Medicine

sedative sed·a·tive (sěd'ə-tĭv)
Having a soothing, calming, or tranquilizing effect; reducing or relieving anxiety, stress, irritability, or excitement. n.
An agent or a drug that produces a soothing, calming, or tranquilizing effect.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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sedative in Science
A drug having a calming or quieting effect, often given to reduce anxiety or to promote relaxation.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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