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

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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

Even before its establishment in 1913, during earlier, abortive attempts to create a permanent U.S. central bank, sniping from the White House and Congress was frequent. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "Why Trump’s Fed Bashing Is Encouraging," 11 Oct. 2018 March 10 is the 60th anniversary of an abortive 1959 uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet, while anti-government riots occurred March 14, 2008, in the regional capital Lhasa. Christopher Bodeen, The Seattle Times, "China closes Tibet to foreigners for sensitive anniversaries," 19 Feb. 2019 Bieber has just returned from an abortive attempt at the Hoffman Process, a weeklong intensive group-therapy retreat with a devoted Hollywood following. Rob Haskell, Vogue, "Justin and Hailey Bieber Open Up About Their Passionate, Not-Always-Easy but Absolutely All-In Romance," 7 Feb. 2019 Following an abortive takeover bid from Kraft Heinz last year, the company argued that a single share class would give it more flexibility to do big deals at a time of convulsive industry change. Stephen Wilmot, WSJ, "The Tyranny of the Stock Indexes," 5 Oct. 2018 This type of medication is known as acute or abortive treatment, the NINDS explains. Korin Miller, SELF, "How Long Can a Migraine Last? (Because It Feels Like FOREVER)," 7 Sep. 2018 In France three months of labour strikes at SNCF, the state rail firm, have made millions late for work every week and chaos marks Britain’s railways after an abortive timetable change on May 20th. The Economist, "European state rail firms face scrappy new competitors," 28 June 2018 And will anyone really want to watch a movie about foolish people who during one abortive attempt to make off with the oversize volume of ornithological prints disguise themselves badly as elderly men? Michael O’sullivan, kansascity, "‘American Animals’: True crime that’s entertaining and profound," 21 June 2018 North Korea emerges from an abortive summit with President Donald Trump with its nuclear program intact and with more breathing room on sanctions, as the U.S. now has reduced leverage to extend its campaign of economic pressure. Jonathan Cheng, WSJ, "North Korea Gains Some Breathing Room After Cancellation of Summit," 25 May 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for abortive

Last Updated

25 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for abortive

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

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on abortive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with abortive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for abortive

Spanish Central: Translation of abortive

Nglish: Translation of abortive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abortive for Arabic Speakers

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).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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