Definition of sedative in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsɛdətɪv/


Promoting calm or inducing sleep: the seeds have a sedative effect
More example sentences
  • In most cases patients did not respond to the usual doses of antipsychotics and sedative agents.
  • Limited evidence from one animal study suggests that hops may potentiate the effects of sedative drugs.
  • Antihistamines are sometimes used but mainly for sedative effect.


A drug taken for its calming or sleep-inducing effect: she won’t let them give her sedatives because of the baby a mild sedative
More example sentences
  • She had become dependent on a variety of drugs - sedatives, amphetamines and various narcotics, including heroin.
  • This strategy may prevent accumulation of sedatives by allowing the drugs to be eliminated between doses.
  • Another psychiatrist also gave her sedatives and sleeping pills.


Late Middle English: from Old French sedatif or medieval Latin sedativus, from Latin sedat- 'settled', from the verb sedare (see sedate1).

  • seat from Middle English:

    An old Scandinavian word which goes back even further to the same source as Latin sedere ‘to sit’. The Latin word is also the origin of sedentary (late 16th century), sedative (Late Middle English), and sediment (mid 16th century), and from its past tense session (Late Middle English) literally an act of sitting, so settling down to deal with something. The sense ‘a place where a government is based’, as in seat of government or power, comes from the throne or ‘seat’ of a king or governor. American pilots in the 1940s were the first to use by the seat of the pants, meaning that they flew the plane using their instinct and experience rather than relying on the aircraft's instrument panel. An experienced pilot could tell by a change in the vibrations of the seat if, for example, the plane was about to stall, and so take early action to rescue the situation.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: seda|tive

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