Definition of palliative in English:



  • 1(of a medicine or medical care) relieving pain without dealing with the cause of the condition.

    ‘orthodox medicines tend to be palliative rather than curative’
    • ‘Poland also has three chairs in palliative medicine and a substantial programme of medical teaching.’
    • ‘Supportive care was defined as anything other than chemotherapy and included symptom control by local radiotherapy, palliative surgery, pain relief, blood transfusion, and social or psychological support.’
    • ‘However, it was quite clear from his notes that, after long discussion, he had decided that the potential benefit of palliative chemotherapy or radiotherapy did not overcome the potential discomfort from their side effects.’
    • ‘The emergence of terminal and hospice care, and subsequent endorsement of the specialty of palliative medicine, is a clear expression of this.’
    • ‘Because of his unresponsiveness to treatment and further progression of disease, the patient chose to receive only palliative medical care.’
    • ‘Hospice services are provided for patients with a predicted life expectancy of 6 months or less who have elected palliative rather than curative care.’
    • ‘Some are specific to cancer, others are adjunctive or palliative.’
    • ‘He is a registrar doing advanced training in palliative medicine.’
    • ‘They studied 48 patients attending hospital clinics for respiratory, cardiac, general, or palliative medicine in Australia.’
    • ‘Making appreciable impact on the quality of patients' lives with relatively small interventions will always be one of the joys of working in palliative medicine.’
    • ‘The patient may be required to consider specific palliative treatment and the effect of their request on their family.’
    • ‘Complementary treatments have many advocates in palliative medicine, and many hospice services offer, or are under pressure to offer, such treatments.’
    • ‘We have many palliative drugs, and many ways of suppressing the symptoms of illness, but hardly any cures.’
    • ‘Is palliative chemotherapy cheaper than the best supportive care?’
    • ‘In patients with advanced colorectal cancer, chemotherapy is delivered with palliative rather than curative intent.’
    • ‘Only palliative treatment can be offered for malignant biliary obstruction.’
    • ‘In the past treatment consisted of palliative therapy with pain relievers and folic acid supplements.’
    • ‘She was offered palliative chemotherapy and radiation therapy.’
    • ‘After all, it is the psychiatric profession that gave my symptoms a name, and palliative cure - at least for the moment.’
    • ‘A quarter of all prescriptions in palliative medicine are for licensed drugs that are used for unlicensed indications or that are given by an unlicensed route.’
    soothing, alleviating, sedative, calmative, calming
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    1. 1.1 (of an action) intended to alleviate a problem without addressing the underlying cause.
      ‘short-term palliative measures had been taken’
      • ‘Disgusted with the bland, palliative Lutheranism of his day, he stresses duty, self-sacrifice, and total commitment.’
      • ‘It had to resort to palliative measures such as social assistance, and a restructuring plan for the Belgian industry, which was hardest hit by the crisis.’
      • ‘If treatment cannot provide the patient a quality life, then it is considered better to give no treatment beyond palliative measures.’
      • ‘As a practical matter, the current legal regime substitutes palliative euphemisms for useful controls on police discretion.’
      • ‘I'll be interested to see if it offers any greater palliative effect.’
      • ‘If this palliative censorship worked at all, it worked to alleviate some symptoms manifest in racist broadcasts at the dawn of commercial television.’
      • ‘Nor does the structure admit individual improvement of caste, as a palliative measure, though the possibility of change of an entire caste is apparently recognized.’
      • ‘I wanted to create an alternative to the numbers, the arguments over ‘who is to blame’ and what palliative measures governments and corporations might be willing to take.’
      • ‘However, more important than these essentially palliative measures was the clear acceptance by the Treasury of the principle of ‘parity plus’.’
      • ‘With every new tragedy, state officials respond with palliative measures and assurances that the issue will be studied further.’
      • ‘The dim lights and subdued strains of music wafted across the hall, giving a palliative effect.’
      • ‘Of course, these were only palliative measures.’
      • ‘After ten years of palliative measures, the fundamental problems of the Japanese economy are nowhere near a solution.’
      • ‘The solution should be sought in fast and radical changes to the law on the health insurance system, not in palliative measures like deferment or waiver of debts.’


  • A palliative medicine, measure, etc.

    ‘antibiotics and other palliatives’
    ‘social projects presented as palliatives for the urban crisis’
    • ‘I always assumed these books were filled with trite palliatives.’
    • ‘Pharmaceutical companies do not like palliatives that can be grown in the back yard.’
    • ‘While we all can understand how belittling that experience must have been, shooting the messenger is never the recommended palliative.’
    • ‘Nelson says he sees a day when grading professionals will lay down their own dust palliatives to cap off the soil after completing the excavation.’
    • ‘It would have, in essence, offered a short-term palliative to a longer-term problem.’
    • ‘In meeting after meeting workers demanding action confronted the City Council, only to receive empty palliatives and arrogant admonitions that they were ‘on their side.’’
    • ‘What this palliative fails to address is the involvement of the directors themselves in CEOs’ criminal activity.’
    • ‘Lanzmann isn't interested in extracting pity from his viewers; for him, history is present, undeniable and bereft of palliatives.’
    • ‘If not, the measure would be a simple ineffective palliative, but not a solution to the problem.’
    • ‘There is yet no cure for Aids, only palliatives to make life more comfortable and to prolong life in the shadow of certain death,’ he said.’
    • ‘Such was the milieu in which nineteenth-century gymnastics and calisthenics systems offered women palliatives for infirmities that were equated with consumptive female invalidism.’
    • ‘The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service has several very good publications available on the construction and maintenance of improved soil roads and dust palliatives.’
    • ‘There are palliatives, cosmetics like quinine for malaria, which suppress the symptoms for as long as you take them; when you stop taking quinine, the malaria returns at full force.’
    • ‘The other, I think, is the common conspiracy theory that pharmaceutical companies do not produce cures because they can make more profit selling palliatives.’
    • ‘There are various palliatives, but there is no cure.’
    • ‘But we need much more than news about the latest theories and scientific findings on preventive measures, palliatives and cures.’
    • ‘He went on to say that palliatives would not avail.’
    • ‘Sandwiched between the ready availability of drugs and an inadequate response is a lost generation for whom cocaine is an easier palliative than the severity of a drug-free life.’
    • ‘Morris would undoubtedly see these strategies as little more than palliatives at best or work intensification at worst and certainly unchallenging to the structure of capitalist work relations.’
    • ‘No one would criticise last week's announcement of $1 billion to help combat Aids and other illnesses worldwide, but the gesture represents the tiniest of palliatives to a string of global pandemics.’
    painkiller, analgesic, pain reliever, sedative, tranquillizer, anodyne, calmative, opiate, bromide
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Late Middle English (as an adjective): from French palliatif, -ive or medieval Latin palliativus, from the verb palliare ‘to cloak’ (see palliate).