abor·​tive | \ ə-ˈbȯr-tiv How to pronounce abortive (audio) \

Definition of abortive

1 obsolete : prematurely born
3 : imperfectly formed or developed
4 : tending to cut short

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from abortive

abortively adverb
abortiveness noun

Examples of abortive in a Sentence

an abortive attempt to recover the sunken pirate ship
Recent Examples on the Web Davis returned from an abortive attempt to learn cornerback, and bruising Jahmir Smith and promising C’Bo Flemister also got their share of carries as Notre Dame went with the committee approach. Mike Berardino, Indianapolis Star, "'Next Man In' mentality serves Notre Dame well in the face of injuries," 27 Nov. 2019 Yet the two abortive share sales have a core attribute in common. David Fickling | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Saudi Aramco Needs to Get Realistic About Its IPO," 21 Oct. 2019 The abortive attempt, undertaken in late 1860, marked her last rescue mission on the Underground Railroad. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "The True Story Behind the Harriet Tubman Movie," 30 Oct. 2019 The abortive tie-up inspires thoughts of future matches. The Economist, "Hong Kong’s pursuit of the London Stock Exchange ends in tears," 10 Oct. 2019 Washington Post WeWork Turmoil The storm of negative attention surrounding WeWork CEO Adam Neumann, thanks to abortive IPO plans that saw the firm’s valuation plummet from a nominal $47 billion to as low as $10 billion, may result in his ouster. David Meyer, Fortune, "Most Powerful Women: CEO Daily," 23 Sep. 2019 After an abortive attempt to merge with the then-all-women’s Vassar College, Yale’s then-president, Kingman Brewster, announced that female students would be accepted in the class of 1973. Ashley Fetters, The Atlantic, "Yale’s First Women Changed Their School Amid a Changing America," 22 Sep. 2019 After an abortive and agonizing affair with a fellow student from his own upper-class milieu, Hall meets Alec Scudder on a visit to his ex’s estate. Hugh Ryan, Town & Country, "Downton Abbey's Thomas Barrow and the Future of the Gay Past," 16 Sep. 2019 With the insolvency tribunal taking Jet Airways India Ltd. under its wing on Thursday, there may be one more abortive attempt to sell it whole. Andy Mukherjee | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Monty Python and the Unholy Fail of Jet Airways," 24 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abortive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of abortive

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for abortive

Middle English abortyffe, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French abbortif, borrowed from Latin abortīvus, from abortus, past participle of aborīrī "to miscarry, abort entry 1" + -īvus -ive

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about abortive

Time Traveler for abortive

Time Traveler

The first known use of abortive was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for abortive

Last Updated

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Abortive.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abortive. Accessed 19 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for abortive


How to pronounce abortive (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of abortive

: failing to achieve the desired result : not successful


abor·​tive | \ ə-ˈbȯrt-iv How to pronounce abortive (audio) \

Medical Definition of abortive

1 : imperfectly formed or developed : rudimentary
b : cutting short abortive treatment of pneumonia
c : failing to develop completely or typically an abortive case of poliomyelitis

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on abortive

What made you want to look up abortive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to insert between existing elements

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!