2. A medicine that allays irritability or excitement or lowers functional activities: Most sedatives, or tranquilizers, can promote sleep.
The overdosage of a sedative can lead to dangerous respiratory depression or slowed breathing.
Some sedatives can dangerously depress important signals needed to maintain heart and lung function if they are misused, or accidentally combined, as in the case of combining prescription sedatives with alcohol.
Many sedatives also have addictive potential; so for these reasons, sedatives should be used under medical supervision, and only when definitely needed.3. Etymology: from Medieval Latin sedativus, "calming, allaying"; from sedat- and sedare, sedere, "to sit".