[pal-ee-ey-tiv, -ee-uh-tiv]


serving to palliate.


something that palliates.

Origin of palliative

From the French word palliatif, dating back to 1535–45. See palliate, -ive
Related formspal·li·a·tive·ly, adverbnon·pal·li·a·tive, adjectivenon·pal·li·a·tive·ly, adverbun·pal·li·a·tive, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for palliative

Contemporary Examples of palliative

Historical Examples of palliative

  • During his sickness he sought a palliative for his pains—in the Bible.

  • Insanity may perhaps be the only palliative left to Nature in this extremity.

    The Guardian Angel

    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

  • For him there was a palliative, or even a gloomy but an unanswerable excuse.

    Devereux, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • As far as Cæsar is concerned, it is palliative rather than condemnatory.

    The Life of Cicero

    Anthony Trollope

  • Emigration on the largest scale has proved a palliative, but no remedy.

    British Socialism

    J. Ellis Barker

British Dictionary definitions for palliative



serving to palliate; relieving without curing


something that palliates, such as a sedative drug or agent
Derived Formspalliatively, adverb
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

Word Origin and History for palliative

early 15c., from Middle French palliatif (14c.) or directly from Medieval Latin palliativus "under cloak, covert," from Late Latin palliatus (see palliate). As a noun, recorded from 1724.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

palliative in Medicine


[pălē-ā′tĭv, -ē-ə-tĭv]


Relieving or soothing the symptoms of a disease or disorder without effecting a cure.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.