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verb (used with object), purged, purg·ing.
  1. to rid of whatever is impure or undesirable; cleanse; purify.
  2. to rid, clear, or free (usually followed by of or from): to purge a political party of disloyal members.
  3. to clear of imputed guilt or ritual uncleanliness.
  4. to clear away or wipe out legally (an offense, accusation, etc.) by atonement or other suitable action.
  5. to remove by cleansing or purifying (often followed by away, off, or out).
  6. to clear or empty (the bowels) by causing evacuation.
  7. to cause evacuation of the bowels of (a person).
  8. to put to death or otherwise eliminate (undesirable or unwanted members) from a political organization, government, nation, etc.
  9. Metallurgy.
    1. to drive off (undesirable gases) from a furnace or stove.
    2. to free (a furnace or stove) of undesirable gases.
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verb (used without object), purged, purg·ing.
  1. to become cleansed or purified.
  2. to undergo or cause purging of the bowels.
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  1. the act or process of purging.
  2. the removal or elimination of members of a political organization, government, nation, etc., who are considered disloyal or otherwise undesirable.
  3. something that purges, as a purgative medicine or dose.
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Origin of purge

1250–1300; (v.) Middle English purgen < Old French purg(i)er < Latin pūrgāre to cleanse; (noun) Middle English < Old French, derivative of the v.
Related formspurge·a·ble, adjectivepurg·er, nounun·purge·a·ble, adjectiveun·purged, adjective

Synonyms for purge

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples of purge

British Dictionary definitions for purge


  1. (tr) to rid (something) of (impure or undesirable elements)
  2. (tr) to rid (a state, political party, etc) of (dissident or troublesome people)
  3. (tr)
    1. to empty (the bowels) by evacuation of faeces
    2. to cause (a person) to evacuate his bowels
    1. to clear (a person) of a charge
    2. to free (oneself) of guilt, as by atonementto purge contempt
  4. (intr) to be cleansed or purified
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  1. the act or process of purging
  2. the elimination of opponents or dissidents from a state, political party, etc
  3. a purgative drug or agent; cathartic
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Derived Formspurger, noun

Word Origin for purge

C14: from Old French purger, from Latin pūrgāre to 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

Word Origin and History for purge


c.1300, "clear of a charge or suspicion;" late 14c., "cleanse, clear, purify," from Anglo-French purger, Old French purgier "wash, clean; refine, purify" morally or physically (12c., Modern French purger) and directly from Latin purgare "cleanse, make clean; purify," especially of the body, "free from what is superfluous; remove, clear away," figuratively "refute, justify, vindicate" (also source of Spanish purgar, Italian purgare), from Old Latin purigare, from purus "pure" (see pure) + root of agere "to drive, make" (see act (n.)). Related: Purged; purging.

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1560s, "that which purges," from purge (v.). Meaning "a purgative, an act of purging" is from 1590s. Political sense from 1730. Earliest sense in English was the now-obsolete one "examination in a legal court" (mid-15c.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

purge in Medicine


  1. To cause evacuation of the bowels.
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  1. The act or process of purging.
  2. Something that purges, especially a medicinal purgative.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.