• WordNet 3.6
    • n catharsis (psychoanalysis) purging of emotional tensions
    • n catharsis purging the body by the use of a cathartic to stimulate evacuation of the bowels
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n catharsis In medicine, a natural or artificial purgation of any passage, especially the bowels. Also called apocatharsis.
    • n catharsis Used in English to express whatever Aristotle is supposed to have meant by the same word. But he has been understood in five different ways. A passage of his “Poetics” to which we are referred in his “Politics” for the full explanation of his meaning does not appear in the “Poetics,” as extant. The word was applied in Greek to the ritual purification of temples, etc. Plato and Xenophon (the latter using only the adjective καθαρός, clean), both disciples of Socrates, use it to mean a clarification of the mind induced by dying and even at the near approach of death. Aristotle means by his phrase κάθαρσις τω%148ν παθημάτων (often translated ‘a purging of the passions’) a mental effect of the contemplation of works of high art, especially of the choral but severely simple and solemn Greek tragedies. He has been supposed to mean a cleansing from sin; but it is certain that he does not mean this or any strictly moral effect. On the other hand, he was of a medical family, and himself compares catharsis to the effect of a cathartic. He probably means the brightening and clearing of the emotional state by relieving the thoughts of the burden of sordid cares and of sensual desires; and something like this is now usually understood by the word.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • ns Catharsis evacuation of the bowels
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  • Dorothy Parker
    “Art is a form of catharsis.”


Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Gr. kathartikos, fit for cleansing, katharos, clean.


In literature:

Even confusion can find in music an expression and a catharsis.
"The Life of Reason" by George Santayana
It does not touch the 'catharsis' of tragedy, which is another matter.
"The Comedies of William Congreve Volume 1 [of 2]" by William Congreve
The bowels should be kept open by some mild catharsis, as castor oil or a pill of aloes.
"The Ladies Book of Useful Information" by Anonymous
Evacuations by venesection and catharsis, and then by the exhibition of opium.
"Zoonomia, Vol. II" by Erasmus Darwin

In poetry:

Now there comes catharsis, the cleansing downpour
Breaking the blossoms of our overdated fancies
Our old sentimentality and whimsicality
Loves of the morning.
"June Thunder" by Louis MacNeice

In news:

Some artists aren't moved by the beauty around them, their patrons' sponsorship, or some deep need for catharsis.
Jazz Guitarist in a Gospel-Soul Catharsis.
Amy LaVere's Catharsis at Bar Pink.
Essentially I hoped the act of walking up the stairs in my apartment again and again would induce a catharsis.
The facts of what happened must be honored, but real life seldom compresses neatly into three acts with climaxes and catharsis timed for maximum audience impact.
Not that interested in experiencing a catharsis.
What's a fully stocked music library worth if it can't give a little catharsis.
Liesl Tommy highlights male pathos and feminist catharsis in her staging of Shakespeare's famous play.
The public hearings on the MTA's proposed fare hike have been a great exercise in civic catharsis, letting people tell the transit agency just how much they dislike the idea of paying more for their daily commutes.
In addition to helping us understand what the cleanse was doing to our bodies, she shared how meditation and journaling could help us through the mental and spiritual catharsis and open us up to infinite possibility.
ESPN's insults should kick-start our catharsis.
Ralf Schulte and Alexander Brandenburger have found a new way to package and sell catharsis.
Populism , the popular uprising against the status quo, has often in a time of catharsis turned against the least among us—the foreigner.
In an unusually political comment, the Barry prosecutor said the case might be a "catharsis" bringing the District of Columbia new leaders who will fight drugs.
Sleigh Bells explore the art of catharsis.