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[lak-suh-tiv] /ˈlæk sə tɪv/
a medicine or agent for relieving constipation.
of, pertaining to, or constituting a laxative; purgative.
  1. (of the bowels) subject to looseness.
  2. (of a disease) characterized by looseness of the bowels.
1350-1400; Middle English laxatif (< Middle French) < Medieval Latin laxātīvus loosening (see laxation, -ive)
Related forms
laxatively, adverb
laxativeness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for laxatives
  • Fecal impaction is often seen in people who have had constipation for a long time and have been using laxatives.
  • Impaction is even more likely when the laxatives are stopped suddenly.
  • Additionally, bulk laxatives such as psyllium may help add fluid and bulk to the stool.
  • Suppositories or gentle laxatives, such as milk of magnesia liquid, may establish regular bowel movements.
  • These same signs and symptoms can also occur in people who have taken too many diuretics or laxatives.
  • laxatives may be prescribed to make sure the bowel is clear of any particles that might interfere with the study.
  • Cold showers and laxatives were seen as cures for the suicidal urge.
British Dictionary definitions for laxatives


an agent stimulating evacuation of faeces
stimulating evacuation of faeces
Word Origin
C14 (originally: relaxing): from Medieval Latin laxātīvus, from Latin laxāre to loosen
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
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Word Origin and History for laxatives



late 14c., from Old French laxatif (13c.), from Medieval Latin laxativus "loosening," from Latin laxatus, past participle of laxare "loosen," from laxus "loose, lax" (see lax). The noun meaning "a laxative medicine" is from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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laxatives in Medicine

laxative lax·a·tive (lāk'sə-tĭv)
A food or drug that stimulates evacuation of the bowels. adj.
Stimulating evacuation of the bowels.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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