Definition of expectorant in US English:



  • A medicine which promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages, used to treat coughs.

    • ‘She suggested I get an expectorant rather than a cough suppressant, which is what I'd been taking.’
    • ‘Some combine a full range of cold fighters: nasal decongestants, cough suppressants, and expectorants that loosen mucus.’
    • ‘In herbal medicine, mustard is regarded as an expectorant and secretion-loosener, and has a long history of use as a remedy for chest complaints.’
    • ‘Medically, basil has been used as a sedative, an expectorant, and a laxative but it is not used much in herbal preparations today.’
    • ‘Despite its broad use in the treatment of cough, multiple studies have found inconsistent results supporting the effectiveness of guaifenesin as an expectorant or cough suppressant.’


Mid 18th century: from Latin expectorant- ‘expelling from the chest’, from the verb expectorare (see expectorate).