A food or drug that stimulates evacuation of the bowels.
1. Stimulating evacuation of the bowels.
2. Causing looseness or relaxation, especially of the bowels.
[Middle English, from Old French laxatif, from Medieval Latin laxātīvus, preventing constipation, from Late Latin, assuaging, from Latin laxātus, past participle of laxāre, to relax, from laxus, loose; see LAX.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.