Definition of emetic in US English:



  • 1(of a substance) causing vomiting.

    • ‘This is followed by up to two quarts of warm salted water or strong licorice tea which in such high dosage is emetic.’
    • ‘The men cleansed themselves with ceremonial bathing and by fasting and drinking a strong emetic potion which they called ‘medicine.’’
    • ‘Although not commonly used as an emetic today, the drug is a reliable and rapidly acting substance.’
    • ‘Various parts of the elder have long been used in traditional medicine as a diaphoretic, diuretic, astringent, laxative, and emetic.’
    • ‘All episodes of emetic symptoms during the first 24 hours after anesthesia were recorded.’
    • ‘Deoxynivalenol is often called vomitoxin because of its strong emetic effect on the animal.’
    • ‘The berries have been shown to have an emetic effect.’
    • ‘The number of emetic episodes on the worst day were dependent on the cisplatin regimen.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Early tolerance develops not only to the pleasurable euphoriant effects of heroin, but also to the analgesic, sedative, emetic, and respiratory depressant effects.’
    • ‘It's emetic action is probably caused by veratroidine and a resin.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The film's carnage is emetic, not exploitative.’
      • ‘Letters sections in newspapers became fora for anyone for whom the mere mention of a cassock is emetic.’
      • ‘The heart-warming (for which read emetic) message of this self-regarding tosh is that everyone should follow their dreams.’
      • ‘They are emetic rather than erotic.’


  • A medicine or other substance which causes vomiting.

    • ‘Treatment is the use of emetics if the patient is not too weak.’
    • ‘Wounds were cleaned, broken bones were set, and medicinal emetics were administered.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Ayurvedic treatments prescribed by specialists, now increasingly popular in the West, include diet therapy, yoga and ‘internal cleansing’ such as enemas and emetics.’
    • ‘He prefers to purge children of demons by making them take laxatives and emetics.’
    • ‘The overuse of bleeding, mercury, arsenic, opium, emetics, and purgatives weakened patients almost as much as the diseases of the day.’
    • ‘The juice is used in emetics, but it's not poisonous really.’
    • ‘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 milder kinds are eaten as vegetables; the medium ones used as condiments; and the strongest are inedible but have been used as emetics.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In some cities doctors have administered emetics to alleged crack dealers at the request of police or court officials.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It can have an irritant effect on the gastrointestinal mucosa, and in large doses will act as an emetic.’


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