purging or cleansing, especially by causing evacuation of the bowels.


a purgative medicine or agent; cathartic.

Origin of purgative

1350–1400; < Late Latin pūrgātīvus (see purgation, -ive); replacing Middle English purgatyf < Middle French < Late Latin, as above
Related formspur·ga·tive·ly, adverbnon·pur·ga·tive, adjectivenon·pur·ga·tive·ly, adverbun·pur·ga·tive, adjectiveun·pur·ga·tive·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for purgative

purge, laxative, physic, aperient, emetic, aperitive

Examples from the Web for purgative

Contemporary Examples of purgative

Historical Examples of purgative

British Dictionary definitions for purgative



a drug or agent for purging the bowels


causing evacuation of the bowels; cathartic
Derived Formspurgatively, 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 purgative

late 14c., from Old French purgatif (14c.) and directly from Late Latin purgativus, from purgat-, past participle stem of Latin purgare (see purge (v.)). The noun is attested from early 15c. (Old English medical texts have clænsungdrenc).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

purgative in Medicine




An agent used for purging the bowels.


Tending to cause evacuation of the bowels.
Related formspurga•tive adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.