Definition of emetic in US English:



  • 1(of a substance) causing vomiting.

    • ‘Although not commonly used as an emetic today, the drug is a reliable and rapidly acting substance.’
    • ‘Deoxynivalenol is often called vomitoxin because of its strong emetic effect on the animal.’
    • ‘Benzodiazepines and opioids - current standards of treatment for postoperative pain - have well-known sedative and emetic side effects.’
    • ‘Make sure your pets don't eat grass that has been exposed to fertilizers or pesticides… it can make them really sick beyond the emetic effect.’
    • ‘The number of emetic episodes on the worst day were dependent on the cisplatin regimen.’
    • ‘The men cleansed themselves with ceremonial bathing and by fasting and drinking a strong emetic potion which they called ‘medicine.’’
    • ‘All episodes of emetic symptoms during the first 24 hours after anesthesia were recorded.’
    • ‘It's emetic action is probably caused by veratroidine and a resin.’
    • ‘The berries have been shown to have an emetic effect.’
    • ‘Early tolerance develops not only to the pleasurable euphoriant effects of heroin, but also to the analgesic, sedative, emetic, and respiratory depressant effects.’
    • ‘All patients were monitored for the occurrence of emetic symptoms and possible side effects on three occasions within the first 24 hours after their emergence from general anesthesia.’
    • ‘It will make him vomit and eject all the contents of his stomach, including poison, which no emetic agent can do - thus saving his life.’
    • ‘Various parts of the elder have long been used in traditional medicine as a diaphoretic, diuretic, astringent, laxative, and emetic.’
    • ‘This is followed by up to two quarts of warm salted water or strong licorice tea which in such high dosage is emetic.’
    1. 1.1informal Nauseating or revolting.
      ‘that emetic music in department stores’
      • ‘Space precludes a full, emetic account of the family visit to the London Tate Gallery.’
      • ‘The film's carnage is emetic, not exploitative.’
      • ‘The heart-warming (for which read emetic) message of this self-regarding tosh is that everyone should follow their dreams.’
      • ‘Somewhere in childhood - around the age of seven - I had glugged from a bottle of Bell's, mistaking it for ginger ale, an incident which established an emetic aversion to the stuff.’
      • ‘Letters sections in newspapers became fora for anyone for whom the mere mention of a cassock is emetic.’
      • ‘They are emetic rather than erotic.’


  • A medicine or other substance which causes vomiting.

    • ‘The most common eating disorder in athletes involves exercise bulimia - using exercise as a form of weight reduction along with the use of laxatives, emetics, diuretics, and stimulants.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, care generally remained harsh; hospitals relied on bleedings, purgings, and emetics to calm the disturbed and often locked in basement cells those considered dangerous.’
    • ‘He advocated enemas, emetics, purgatives and sneezing powders.’
    • ‘Doctors resorted to medications that purged the poison from the body - mercury laxatives, calomel, and emetics such as ipecacuanha.’
    • ‘He prefers to purge children of demons by making them take laxatives and emetics.’
    • ‘Wounds were cleaned, broken bones were set, and medicinal emetics were administered.’
    • ‘In some cities doctors have administered emetics to alleged crack dealers at the request of police or court officials.’
    • ‘The milder kinds are eaten as vegetables; the medium ones used as condiments; and the strongest are inedible but have been used as emetics.’
    • ‘The juice is used in emetics, but it's not poisonous really.’
    • ‘Treatment is the use of emetics if the patient is not too weak.’
    • ‘Ayurvedic treatments prescribed by specialists, now increasingly popular in the West, include diet therapy, yoga and ‘internal cleansing’ such as enemas and emetics.’
    • ‘The three of us, mum, sister and I, were thoroughly ill - the constant churning motion of the ship combined with the smell of oil and metal and ozone and kippers in the dark combined to make a pungent emetic.’
    • ‘It can have an irritant effect on the gastrointestinal mucosa, and in large doses will act as an emetic.’
    • ‘Napoleon had been treated for a long time with tartar emetics, and the day he died he had been given a huge dose of calomer as a purgative.’
    • ‘Probably they need to get something out of their system (that's the folklore, anyway) and grass for some reason is a non-poisonous emetic.’
    • ‘The overuse of bleeding, mercury, arsenic, opium, emetics, and purgatives weakened patients almost as much as the diseases of the day.’


Mid 17th century: from Greek emetikos, from emein ‘to vomit’.