Definition of purge in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Rid (someone) of an unwanted feeling, memory, or condition, typically giving a sense of cathartic release.

    ‘Bob had helped purge Martha of the terrible guilt that had haunted her’
    1. 1.1 Free someone from (an unwanted feeling, memory, or condition).
      • ‘I haven't cried like that in a very, very long time. Here's fervently hoping it serves as some kind of cathartic purge.’
      • ‘At this point all thoughts of him were purged from my memory.’
      • ‘It's a common theme in movies, the American who purges bad feelings by facing danger head on, and director Joe Johnston is clumsy with it.’
      • ‘By remembering the Holocaust we are fighting the evil within and purging ourselves of feelings of intolerance.’
      • ‘But I think the best way for me to purge out unwanted emotions, or even good emotions, is by talking about it.’
      • ‘Even though I was trying to purge myself of him, the constant influx of delicate memories made me feel like I was on a Justin binge.’
      • ‘He talked about being able to purge yourself of issues, fears and anxieties by personifying them as demons and then doing workings to expel them.’
      • ‘She wondered if she would ever be purged of the overwhelming emotion for good.’
      • ‘It's disrespectful to the artist who's purging himself of his emotions on stage.’
      • ‘He evidently purged himself of enough angst to be able to craft a follow-up that's warm, nimble and surprisingly funny in places.’
      • ‘If we are not free when we act from desire, it seems that the only possible path to freedom is to purge oneself of all desires.’
      • ‘God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there - and now we're going to start over again.’
      • ‘Maybe it stands for something, and my mind is just trying to purge itself of unnecessary thoughts.’
      • ‘The tumult of Saipan is long since forgotten; while opinions in Ireland may still be divided, the issue has long since been purged from consciousness here.’
      • ‘However, by finally purging some of the annoyances and adding a few more powerful constructs to the language, we are probably better off than we were before.’
      • ‘Some observers think that Dukes has not been entirely purged of ambition to regain the leadership of the party he lost over 10 years ago.’
      • ‘Thus, the liberal, white anglophone, believing himself to be purged of hate, blissfully participates in the global system of rich Northern countries and poor Southern ones.’
      • ‘The hijackers used fanatical certainty, misplaced religious faith, and dehumanising hatred to purge themselves of the human instinct for empathy.’
      • ‘Does art have the power to purge such a foul karmic residue?’
      • ‘The purpose of tragedy is catharsis, a powerful emotional experience in which the audience purges the emotions of pity and fear.’
      cleanse, clear, purify, wash, shrive, absolve, free someone from
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    2. 1.2 Remove (a group of people considered undesirable) from an organization or place in an abrupt or violent manner.
      ‘he purged all but 26 of the central committee members’
      • ‘To prevent such an outcome it occupied London, purged the House of Commons of those who favoured negotiation, and engineered the trial and execution of the king.’
      • ‘The regime is so paranoid that it is even purging the military.’
      • ‘While the regime had a highly efficient and brutal system for purging class enemies, most people who died under Pol Pot's rule succumbed to starvation or disease, like Ta Rath's rather and sister.’
      • ‘The truth about the incident and the ensuing killings, committed in the name of purging the country of a communist ‘threat’, remain murky until today.’
      • ‘The source of the fear this time is a samizdat manuscript that delivers his final verdict on the party that purged him for supporting the 1989 Tiananmen protesters.’
      • ‘He purged opponents from within his own political ranks and was re-elected president of the Socialist Party.’
      • ‘One of the most extreme actions of Cambodia's late Communist dictator Pol Pot was to purge the country of anybody who wore glasses.’
      • ‘More than 300 army officers were purged after the Mosul uprising.’
      • ‘Zhivkov selectively purged officials throughout the early period to prevent development of alternative power centres in the party.’
      • ‘His regime was replaced by a self-proclaimed Marxist junta under which thousands of opponents were purged or killed, property was confiscated and defence spending spiralled.’
      • ‘The film documents the fruit of the Nazi effort to transform human beings into vermin that must be purged as an act of self-defense.’
      • ‘Deng was purged from office and placed under house arrest.’
      • ‘Anti-Communist labor leaders were purging Communists from unions, and the labor press was losing its independence.’
      • ‘The Stalinist purges coincided with diplomatic efforts by the Soviet regime to form alliances with the Western bourgeois democracies against fascist Germany.’
      • ‘Opposition leaders accused the government of orchestrating the 2003 coup as a pretext for purging the military and cracking down on political opponents.’
      • ‘The KMT actually began fragmenting in the late 1980s when Lee, upon taking control of the party, proceeded to systematically purge mainlanders from the senior ranks.’
      • ‘All in the party senior leadership save his closest guerilla comrades were purged.’
      • ‘He was placed in charge of purging the party's old guard, whose targets included a former prime minister, who committed suicide, and the former chief of the Syrian Army, who fled Syria last week.’
      • ‘Our family had been purged as feudal capitalists during land reform.’
      remove, get rid of, clear out, sweep out, expel, eject, exclude, evict, dismiss, sack, oust, axe, depose, eradicate, root out, weed out, scour
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    3. 1.3 Remove a group of undesirable people from (an organization or place) in an abrupt or violent way.
      ‘an opportunity to purge the party of unsatisfactory members’
      • ‘He was purged from the Republican Clubs / The Workers' Party in 1979 as a ‘disruptive influence’.’
      • ‘Done in by her MPs. Tory malcontents had begun plotting against Thatcher almost since her notorious 1981 reshuffle which purged the cabinet of the ‘wets’.’
      • ‘My duty to purge James was transferred onto Ron.’
      • ‘As for Brown, he has known the Prime Minister's thinking on serving a third term at least since the last reshuffle, which purged Brownites and brought back Milburn.’
      • ‘The purge within the government is being directed from the highest level.’
      • ‘My editorship came to a rather abrupt end after President John F. Kennedy purged the U.S. Civil War Commission's members and staff.’
      • ‘When a new management purged left-wing journalists from the Daily Mirror in 1992, Paul was in the forefront of those putting up resistance, and lost his job as a result.’
      • ‘She is typical of the ‘loony right’ that are making the Conservatives unelectable, and the sooner they are purged from the membership the better.’
      • ‘Universities were purged of secular elements and the criteria for social mobility became the ability to demonstrate loyalty to the ideals of the new regime.’
      • ‘But they also comprehend and debate the risks of the process of purging their leadership.’
      • ‘In the week from the 6-12 April, as the peace deal was being negotiated and agreed, Sinn Fein purged its party of dissidents.’
      • ‘The resulting feud ravaged the Australian side of the 1930s and 1940s until Bradman finally purged O'Reilly's cabal.’
      • ‘He's done the right thing by not purging Beazley's backers.’
      • ‘Notice the states they represent and then tell me that the key to victory is to purge these people in favor of more liberal candidates.’
      • ‘I was charged with helping to carry out that policy, which Soong considered a conspiracy aimed at purging him.’
      • ‘The new Ukrainian government seems to be more successful in purging the government of supporters of the old regime than in pursuing sound economic policies.’
      • ‘Closer to home, Norquist has been working to purge the corporate-lobbying community of Democratic supporters, a plan he calls the K Street Project.’
      • ‘Then, prove the greatness of your leadership by purging the party of all those who have failed to see that you are the physical embodiment of the party and the state.’
      • ‘After purging his government of them, it's a tad hypocritical to run on their record - and it's a tad dishonest as well - because they aren't in charge anymore.’
      • ‘She purged the Department of Education's top ranks of educators favoring a traditional pedagogical approach.’
      rid, clear, cleanse, empty, strip, scour, void
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    4. 1.4Law Atone for or wipe out (contempt of court).
      • ‘The men were prepared to purge their contempt of court simultaneously with Shell collapsing its injunction against them.’
      • ‘They will not be released until they purge their contempt of court.’
      • ‘I make it plain it is open to you, Mr Rothschild, to apply to the court, in this court, to purge your contempt.’
      • ‘But their joy turned to anger after the judge reduced the sentence after agreeing to purge the contempt of court conviction.’
      • ‘I have been told by the Solicitor / Barrister trying yet again to purge my contempt that my sentence is wildly excessive.’
    5. 1.5 Physically remove (something) completely.
      ‘a cold air blower purges residual solvents from the body’
      • ‘Something badly needed to be done to purge the country of its weapons.’
      • ‘A high school in Orlando boosted its test scores from an F to a D after purging its attendance rolls of 126 low-performing students.’
      • ‘He commented on purging a gas line after an installation to remove the air and get the gas to the pilot chamber.’
      • ‘Mill purged the text of almost all direct references to contemporary individuals, organizations, and institutions.’
      • ‘We directly purged the participants' blood samples to remove the chemicals.’
      • ‘What sort of standards do you set for yourself when purging your collection?’
      • ‘Those listings would then be purged from the site, and a customer-service specialist would review them to see if there was any reason to allow such a listing.’
      • ‘The process (which took eight hours or so) might have taken less time, had I purged the multi-gig Internet cache, but I didn't want to lose anything.’
      • ‘More than a decade passed before school textbooks were purged of their most radical nationalist claims and before the media began to moderate its tone.’
      • ‘More recently, Swiss banks have begun purging their accounts of money looted from Jews during the Holocaust.’
      • ‘While AOL purges customer e-mail from its servers after 28 days unless users specify otherwise, Gmail encourages users to hold onto their messages indefinitely.’
      • ‘In Florida, the voter rolls were purged of 50,000 to 80,000 supposed felons.’
      • ‘The corpse was hardly cold before Helge began purging the museum of his father's taste.’
      • ‘I have quite enjoyed becoming reacquainted with old things and purging lots of junk that I do not need to be carrying around.’
      • ‘The new computer software has already purged my database of hidden spam.’
      • ‘Having widely publicised their plan to EPO test in Edmonton, the athletics body has provided drugs cheats the necessary time needed to purge their system of the blood-boosting substance.’
      • ‘The list was purged of bogus names.’
      • ‘Thus, many marketers are apparently purging those who don't open their emails, or asking people to re-opt-in.’
      • ‘In direct mail applications, the daily operations is about taking various lists and run merging / purging operations.’
    6. 1.6often as noun purgingno object Evacuate one's bowels, especially as a result of taking a laxative.
      • ‘The number of times a bulimic patient purges can vary widely, from as seldom as once or twice weekly to as often as 10 times per day.’
      • ‘He just loathed the way he felt and acted whenever he was bingeing and purging, almost as if by doing this, he became like the one person he loathed more than anything in the world - his uncle.’
      • ‘A person with bulimia binges (eats a large amount) and then purges (tries to get rid of the calories).’
      • ‘Along with an intense fear of becoming overweight and preoccupation with body image, both anorexia and bulimia can include binging and purging.’
      • ‘Eating disorders are rampant in today's culture, so you don't want to contribute toward an addictive cycle of secretive bingeing and purging.’
      • ‘Some will push staff to the limit, being kept alive intravenously and still exercising and purging.’
      • ‘As dietitians, my colleagues and I use this idea to help clients stop bingeing and purging, starving themselves or dieting.’
      • ‘Since you have been bingeing and purging for so long, you may have developed medical problems you aren't aware of.’
      • ‘Persons with bulimia nervosa, however, usually purge, fast, or do strenuous exercise after they binge eat.’
      • ‘I still wasn't eating, but I wasn't purging either.’
      • ‘Hypochloremic, hypokalemic, or metabolic alkalosis might be present in patients who purge.’
      • ‘Although most bulimics purge by vomiting, abuse of laxatives or diuretics also occurs.’
      • ‘Bulimics will consume large quantities of food in a short period of time before purging through laxatives or making themselves vomit.’
      • ‘After bingeing and purging, a bulimic feels depressed or guilty.’
      • ‘Older women may binge and purge to cope with unpleasant mood stages.’
      • ‘Exercise bulimics work out to purge what they have eaten in much the same way bulimics vomit after eating.’
      • ‘Victims of the plague were treated by blood-letting, purging with laxatives and the lancing of the plague-boils.’
      • ‘Rush's strategy with serious fevers was to purge with powerful doses of calomel and jalap, followed by bleeding until the patient fainted.’
      • ‘Bulimics purge by vomiting, strict dieting, fasting (not eating), exercising, or by taking laxatives.’
      • ‘Bulimia nervosa patients - even those of normal weight - can severely damage their bodies by frequent binge eating and purging.’


  • 1An abrupt or violent removal of a group of people from an organization or place.

    ‘a purge of the ruling class is absolutely necessary’
    ‘a victim of the cultural purges’
    • ‘I propose a purge of the party leadership.’
    • ‘The national Democratic Party leadership tacitly supported the right-wing purge.’
    • ‘After the restoration of the absolute monarchy in 1814, Goya narrowly survived a purge.’
    • ‘His principal aim was a purge of the top ranks within the armed forces and police, beginning with his personal enemies.’
    • ‘But it is also true that during the same period an estimated 160 million people have lost their lives in inter-state wars, civil strife, totalitarian purges and ethnic cleansing.’
    • ‘The current audit is likely to result in the purge of at least some serving officers and NCOs who have tolerated abuse.’
    • ‘What emerges is a disturbing picture of an election marred by suspicious irregularities, electoral injustices, and sinister voter purges in a state governed by the winning candidate's brother.’
    • ‘Late last year the junta released nearly 20,000 prisoners following a purge which ousted the prime minister.’
    • ‘How is its position in this case in any principled way different from those who organized the McCarthyite anticommunist purges on American college campuses in the 1940s and 1950s?’
    • ‘They ran to the Santa Cruz cemetery where they planned to pay homage to a young boy killed in the weeks of violent purges.’
    • ‘After having Geta killed, a drastic purge followed.’
    • ‘The government's purges of the civil service, unions, police, and armed forces also weakened the party's potential for political action.’
    • ‘It was painted during a period in which the father of the young woman portrayed in the painting himself fell victim to the purges.’
    • ‘The first wave of purges started in 1928-29, as forced collectivization began.’
    • ‘A former boxing champion, he came to power in a 1971 coup and his rule was characterised by eccentric behaviour and violent purges.’
    • ‘Another purge in September led to the arrest of 572 people on drug-related charges.’
    • ‘Then she finishes up with a ringing ‘We repudiate any type of demands for a purge of the movement.’’
    • ‘In 1949, there was a mass purge of Communists, using regulations originally designed for ultra - right militarists.’
    • ‘Eviatar mistakenly asserts that I held the purge of the communists the most important consequence of that 1947 law.’
    • ‘The government stepped up a purge on the nation's judiciary yesterday, announcing it will begin moves to fire judges it accuses of bias.’
    removal, expulsion, ejection, exclusion, eviction, clearance, clear-out, discharge, dismissal, sacking, ousting, deposition, eradication, rooting out, weeding out
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    1. 1.1dated A laxative.
      laxative, enema, aperient, lenitive, cathartic, evacuant
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Middle English (in the legal sense ‘clear oneself of a charge’): from Old French purgier, from Latin purgare ‘purify’, from purus ‘pure’.