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Cough drops often contain demulcents to soothe the throat

From Latin dēmulcēns, present active participle of dēmulceō (to stroke caressingly; to soften, soothe, allure), from dē- (prefix meaning ‘from; of’) + mulceō (to move or touch gently or lightly, to stroke; to make pleasant or sweet; to soften, soothe, alleviate, relieve).



demulcent (comparative more demulcent, superlative most demulcent)

  1. (also figuratively) Soothing or softening.
    • 1747, R[obert] James, “Of Alteratives”, in Pharmacopœia Universalis: Or, A New English Dispensatory. [...], London: Printed for J. Hodges, at the Looking-Glass, over-against St. Magnus's Church, London Bridge; and J. Wood, under the piazza of the Royal Exchange, OCLC 731562815, book II (Of the Operation of Medicines), pages 150–151:
      In continual hectic Heats, and if the ſweet Juices, by a continued ſlow Fever, acquire a ſaltiſh alcaline Acrimony, Cream and new Butter, on Account of their demulcent Qualities, are found to produce excellent Effects.
    • 1827 May 1, “XXVI. Spreading Ulcer of the Nose.”, in James Copland, John Darwall, and John Conolly, editors, The London Medical Repository and Review, volume XXVII, number 161 (New Series, volume IV, number XXIII), London: Printed for Thomas and John Underwood, 32 Fleet Street, OCLC 874893197, page 465:
      Twenty leeches were ordered to be applied round the nose every two days; frequent emollient fomentations; the local vapour bath; general bathing; stimulating pedilavia; a strict regimen; vegetables, milk, white meats; demulcent or acidulated drinks; avoidance of exposure to the sun or to cold air; flannel waistcoat and trousers. This treatment, being strictly observed for two months, caused all the inflammatory symptoms to disappear, []
    • 1990, Helen Simpson, “Four Bare Legs in a Bed”, in Four Bare Legs in a Bed: And Other Stories, London: William Heinemann, →ISBN; republished London: Vintage, 1998, →ISBN, page 1:
      I channel vertically under the sheet to hide my blushing neck, muttering demulcent nothings.
    • 1997, Manuchair Ebadi, “Expectorants; Drugs that Increase Respiratory Tract Fluid”, in CRC Desk Reference of Clinical Pharmacology (CRC Desk References), Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, →ISBN, page 218:
      Expectorants may have a demulcent (soothing and irritation-allaying) effect on the cells of the respiratory tract and assist in repelling invasion through providing a medium for the upward propulsion of foreign particles by ciliary action.
    • 2016, W. D. Clarke, “[Love’s Alchemy.] Pure Bull***t”, in White Mythology: 2 Novellas: Skinner Boxed; Love’s Alchemy, [s.l.]: All That Is Solid Press, →ISBN:
      And like many of us, Dr. Ed filled those 5–10 'extra minutes' a day with some unchallenging, often demulcent reading material.

Related terms[edit]



demulcent (plural demulcents)

  1. (medicine) A soothing medication used to relieve pain in inflamed tissues.
    • 1997, Gregory L. Tilford, “Prickly-pear Cactus”, in Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West, Missoula, Mt.: Mountain Press Publishing Company, published July 2009, →ISBN, page 118:
      Indians of the West Coast used preparations of prickly-pear to treat wounds, burns, contusions, warts, and even to facilitate childbirth. Modern herbalists recognize the plant's slippery-oily juice as a useful emollient and demulcent, which may be used externally to soothe dry, irritated skin or internally as a diuretic or anti-inflammatory agent for the digestive and urinary tracts.
    • 2000, Ellen Norten, “Medicinal Uses of Neem”, in Jean Pütz, with Kordula Werner and Deborah Straw, editors, Neem: India’s Miraculous Healing Plant, 1st English edition, Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press, Inner Traditions International, →ISBN, page 46:
      For constipation, a neem powder of two or three grams with three to four black peppers given three times a day is both a laxative and a demulcent.
    • 2014, Trish Scorer, “First Aid Procedures”, in Victoria Aspinall, editor, Clinical Procedures in Veterinary Nursing, 3rd edition, Edinburgh; London: Butterworth-Heinemann, Elsevier, →ISBN, table 9.5, page 185:
      Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) [] If showing symptoms, give absorptive preparations and/or demulcents.


Further reading[edit]




  1. third-person plural present active indicative of dēmulceō