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Definition of Carminative

Carminative: An agent that prevents or relieves flatulence (gas in the gastrointestinal tract) and, in infants, may help in the treatment of colic. The origin of the word "carminative" is particularly curious. It was borrowed from the French carminatif (masc.), carminative (fem.). Virtually all English-language dictionaries state that the French took the word from the Latin carminare, to card wool. However, a respected French dictionary Le Petit Robert indicates that carminare meant nettoyer, to cleanse. The confusion appears to stem from the fact that to card wool was to cleanse it. Thus, a carminative cleanses the bowels.

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=24293
Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012

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