One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Having a cleansing or abrading quality; cleansing, abrading (literal, especially with reference to the body, and figurative).
A cleansing or abrading agent, especially one used on the body.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in John Woodall (1570–1643), surgeon. From French abstergent, adjective or its etymon classical Latin abstergent-, abstergēns, present participle of abstergēre absterge. With use as noun compare post-classical Latin abstergentia, neuter plural. Compare Spanish abstergente, Italian astergente.
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