[ kuh-thahr-sis ]
/ kəˈθɑr sɪs /
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noun, plural ca·thar·ses [kuh-thahr-seez]. /kəˈθɑr siz/.
the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.
Medicine/Medical. purgation.
  1. psychotherapy that encourages or permits the discharge of pent-up, socially unacceptable affects.
  2. discharge of pent-up emotions so as to result in the alleviation of symptoms or the permanent relief of the condition.
In effect, this quiz will prove whether or not you have the skills to know the difference between “affect” and “effect.”
Question 1 of 7
The rainy weather could not ________ my elated spirits on my graduation day.
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Origin of catharsis

1795–1805; <New Latin <Greek kátharsis a cleansing, equivalent to kathar- (variant stem of kathaírein to cleanse, derivative of katharós pure) + -sis-sis


hy·per·ca·thar·sis, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use catharsis in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for catharsis

/ (kəˈθɑːsɪs) /

noun plural -ses
(in Aristotelian literary criticism) the purging or purification of the emotions through the evocation of pity and fear, as in tragedy
psychoanal the bringing of repressed ideas or experiences into consciousness, thus relieving tensionsSee also abreaction
purgation, esp of the bowels

Word Origin for catharsis

C19: New Latin, from Greek katharsis, from kathairein to purge, purify
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

Medical definitions for catharsis

[ kə-thärsĭs ]

n. pl. ca•thar•ses (-sēz)
A psychological technique used to relieve tension and anxiety by bringing repressed feelings and fears to consciousness.
The therapeutic result of this process; abreaction.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Cultural definitions for catharsis

[ (kuh-thahr-suhs) ]

An experience of emotional release and purification, often inspired by or through art. In psychoanalysis, catharsis is the release of tension and anxiety that results from bringing repressed feelings and memories into consciousness.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.