tending to calm or soothe.
allaying irritability or excitement; assuaging pain; lowering functional activity.


a sedative drug or agent.

Origin of sedative

1375–1425; late Middle English (adj.) (< Middle French sédatif) < Medieval Latin sēdātīvus, equivalent to Latin sēdāt(us) (see sedate) + -īvus -ive
Related formsun·sed·a·tive, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sedative

Contemporary Examples of sedative

Historical Examples of sedative

  • 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.

  • 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.


    John Galsworthy

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


    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 for sedative

C15: from Medieval Latin sēdātīvus, from Latin sēdātus assuaged; see sedate 1
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 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

sedative in Medicine




Having a soothing, calming, or tranquilizing effect; reducing or relieving anxiety, stress, irritability, or excitement.


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.

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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.