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adjective (1)

ab·​la·​tive ˈa-blə-tiv How to pronounce ablative (audio)
: of, relating to, or being a grammatical case (see case entry 1 sense 3a) that typically marks a person, place, or thing from which someone or something else is separated or the source from which someone or something comes, and is also frequently used to indicate the cause of an event or condition or the instrument by which an action is accomplished see also ablative absolute
ablative noun


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adjective (2)

ab·​la·​tive a-ˈblā-tiv How to pronounce ablative (audio)
: of or relating to ablation
: tending to ablate
ablative material on a nose cone
ablatively adverb

Examples of ablative in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Please find another way to pose your questions. God of a lack of abundance, ablative god, in the middle of a procession, in the middle of things god, your desires are showing. Alice Gribbin, The New York Review of Books, 2 Nov. 2023 In this case, there was still plenty of margin in the ablative material on Orion, meaning the unanticipated behavior seen in the heat shield posed no risk to the spacecraft. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 8 Mar. 2023 To aid creative re-use of lunar resources, Greig and her colleagues propose a technology called ablative arc mining that would slurp up water ice and the kinds of metals that could be used as building materials. Ramin Skibba, Wired, 22 Sep. 2021 Fractional lasers can be either ablative or nonablative. Claire Bugos, Verywell Health, 21 Apr. 2023 Musk believed an epoxy-like material could be applied to the ablative chamber, which would then seep into the cracks and fill them. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 1 Dec. 2021 Cryotherapy is a relatively short procedure that comes with some discomfort.6 Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy: Sometimes known as flashlamp therapy, IPL therapy is non-invasive and non-ablative. Sarah Fielding, Health, 9 Mar. 2023 This ablative material at the bottom of the spacecraft protects the vehicle itself and any crew inside from the extremely hot conditions outside. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 8 Mar. 2023 The Orion vehicle flown during the EFT-1 mission featured the same basic ablative material, an epoxy known as AVCOAT that was also used by the Apollo capsules during their returns from the Moon half a century ago. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 9 Dec. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ablative.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adjective (1)

Middle English ablatif, borrowed from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French ablatif, borrowed from Latin ablātīvus, from ablātus, suppletive past participle of auferre "to carry away, remove" + -īvus -ive — more at ablate

Adjective (2)

ablate + -ive

First Known Use

Adjective (1)

circa 1500, in the meaning defined above

Adjective (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ablative was circa 1500

Dictionary Entries Near ablative

Cite this Entry

“Ablative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ablative. Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Medical Definition


ab·​la·​tive a-ˈblā-tiv, ə- How to pronounce ablative (audio)
: relating to or involving surgical ablation
ablative treatment
ablative techniques
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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