adjective

noun
ad·​jec·​tive | \ ˈa-jik-tiv How to pronounce adjective (audio) also ˈa-jə-tiv \

Definition of adjective

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a word belonging to one of the major form classes in any of numerous languages and typically serving as a modifier of a noun to denote a quality of the thing named, to indicate its quantity or extent, or to specify a thing as distinct from something else The word red in "the red car" is an adjective.

adjective

adjective

Definition of adjective (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or functioning as an adjective an adjective clause
2 : not standing by itself : dependent
3 : requiring or employing a mordant adjective dyes
4 : procedural adjective law

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Other Words from adjective

Adjective

adjectively adverb

What is an adjective?

Noun

Adjectives describe or modify—that is, they limit or restrict the meaning of—nouns and pronouns. They may name qualities of all kinds: huge, red, angry, tremendous, unique, rare, etc.

An adjective usually comes right before a noun: "a red dress," "fifteen people." When an adjective follows a linking verb such as be or seem, it is called a predicate adjective: "That building is huge," "The workers seem happy." Most adjectives can be used as predicate adjectives, although some are always used before a noun. Similarly, a few adjectives can only be used as predicate adjectives and are never used before a noun.

Some adjectives describe qualities that can exist in different amounts or degrees. To do this, the adjective will either change in form (usually by adding -er or -est) or will be used with words like more, most, very, slightly, etc.: "the older girls," "the longest day of the year," "a very strong feeling," "more expensive than that one." Other adjectives describe qualities that do not vary—"nuclear energy," "a medical doctor"—and do not change form.

The four demonstrative adjectivesthis, that, these, and those—are identical to the demonstrative pronouns. They are used to distinguish the person or thing being described from others of the same category or class. This and these describe people or things that are nearby, or in the present. That and those are used to describe people or things that are not here, not nearby, or in the past or future. These adjectives, like the definite and indefinite articles (a, an, and the), always come before any other adjectives that modify a noun.

An indefinite adjective describes a whole group or class of people or things, or a person or thing that is not identified or familiar. The most common indefinite adjectives are: all, another, any, both, each, either, enough, every, few, half, least, less, little, many, more, most, much, neither, one (and two, three, etc.), other, several, some, such, whole.

The interrogative adjectives—primarily which, what, and whose—are used to begin questions. They can also be used as interrogative pronouns.

Which horse did you bet on? = Which did you bet on?

What songs did they sing? = What did they sing?

Whose coat is this? = Whose is this?

The possessive adjectivesmy, your, his, her, its, our, their—tell you who has, owns, or has experienced something, as in "I admired her candor, "Our cat is 14 years old," and "They said their trip was wonderful."

Nouns often function like adjectives. When they do, they are called attributive nouns.

When two or more adjectives are used before a noun, they should be put in proper order. Any article (a, an, the), demonstrative adjective (that, these, etc.), indefinite adjective (another, both, etc.), or possessive adjective (her, our, etc.) always comes first. If there is a number, it comes first or second. True adjectives always come before attributive nouns. The ordering of true adjectives will vary, but the following order is the most common: opinion wordsizeageshapecolornationalitymaterial.

Participles are often used like ordinary adjectives. They may come before a noun or after a linking verb. A present participle (an -ing word) describes the person or thing that causes something; for example, a boring conversation is one that bores you. A past participle (usually an -ed word) describes the person or thing who has been affected by something; for example, a bored person is one who has been affected by boredom.

They had just watched an exciting soccer game.

The instructions were confusing.

She's excited about the trip to North Africa.

Several confused students were asking questions about the test.

The lake was frozen.

Examples of adjective in a Sentence

Noun The words blue in “the blue car,” deep in “the water is deep,” and tired in “I'm very tired” are adjectives.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Being transgender is an adjective, said Dr. Joshua Safer, a member of the national Endocrine Society and the executive director of the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York. Jeannie Roberts, Arkansas Online, "Transgender kids face difficult road," 25 Apr. 2021 There’s also an adjective for writings on the end of the world in medieval literature—eschatological. Jo Livingstone, The New Republic, "Last Judgment," 6 Apr. 2021 Phenomenal is one adjective to describe the 6-10 Furst’s high school basketball career. Kyle Neddenriep, The Indianapolis Star, "2021 IndyStar Mr. Basketball: Caleb Furst of Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian," 16 Apr. 2021 Lauren Lawless has parlayed her name into a catering business (Flawless Cuisine), blog, cookbook by that title, food truck and, most recently, an Escondido restaurant that also incorporates her signature adjective: Flawless Bistro & Bar. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Food Network competitor starts a restaurant during pandemic," 15 Apr. 2021 Jillian Michaels the actual person is an entirely separate entity from Jillian Michaels the adjective for a workout who lives in my phone. Rachel Handler, Vulture, "An Ode to the People in My Workout Video," 5 Apr. 2021 Éric Rohmer is one of the few filmmakers whose name, no less than those of Hitchcock or Chaplin, has become an adjective. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "Looking Behind Éric Rohmer’s Cinematic Style," 24 Mar. 2021 Right now, that adjective can be said for an entire team of confident Bobcats. cleveland, "Boisterous, bold Ohio Bobcats confident their NCAA experience won’t end against Creighton on Monday," 21 Mar. 2021 Tough is the right adjective to sum up Duke and UNC's seasons. David Thompson, USA TODAY, "'It's win or go home': Duke begins final push for NCAA Tournament against North Carolina," 6 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Corporate sales count shenanigans aside, the new 2021 no-adjective Rogue is primed to be a hit, one of the bestselling compact SUVs in the country. Dallas News, "Nissan Rogue’s 2021 version throws down a challenge to rivals RAV4 and CR-V," 10 Oct. 2020 Corporate sales count shenanigans aside, the new 2021 no-adjective Rogue is primed to be a hit, one of the bestselling compact SUVs in the country. Dallas News, "Nissan Rogue’s 2021 version throws down a challenge to rivals RAV4 and CR-V," 10 Oct. 2020 Corporate sales count shenanigans aside, the new 2021 no-adjective Rogue is primed to be a hit, one of the bestselling compact SUVs in the country. Dallas News, "Nissan Rogue’s 2021 version throws down a challenge to rivals RAV4 and CR-V," 10 Oct. 2020 Corporate sales count shenanigans aside, the new 2021 no-adjective Rogue is primed to be a hit, one of the bestselling compact SUVs in the country. Dallas News, "Nissan Rogue’s 2021 version throws down a challenge to rivals RAV4 and CR-V," 10 Oct. 2020 Corporate sales count shenanigans aside, the new 2021 no-adjective Rogue is primed to be a hit, one of the bestselling compact SUVs in the country. Dallas News, "Nissan Rogue’s 2021 version throws down a challenge to rivals RAV4 and CR-V," 10 Oct. 2020 Turns out that English possesses a fairly simple apparatus of grammar unencumbered by complex noun and adjective inflections and gender markers. Richard Lederer, San Diego Union-Tribune, "How difficult is it to learn the English language?," 20 Feb. 2021 Corporate sales count shenanigans aside, the new 2021 no-adjective Rogue is primed to be a hit, one of the bestselling compact SUVs in the country. Dallas News, "Nissan Rogue’s 2021 version throws down a challenge to rivals RAV4 and CR-V," 10 Oct. 2020 Corporate sales count shenanigans aside, the new 2021 no-adjective Rogue is primed to be a hit, one of the bestselling compact SUVs in the country. Dallas News, "Nissan Rogue’s 2021 version throws down a challenge to rivals RAV4 and CR-V," 10 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'adjective.' 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 adjective

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for adjective

Noun

Middle English adjectif, borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French adjectyf, borrowed from Late Latin adjectīvum, from neuter of adjectivus adjective entry 2 (as translation of Greek epítheton)

Adjective

Middle English adjectif, borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French adjectyf, borrowed from Late Latin adjectīvus, from Latin adjectus (past participle of adjicere "to throw at, attach, contribute, add to (in speech or writing)," from ad- ad- + jacere "to throw") + -īvus -ive — more at jet entry 3

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Time Traveler for adjective

Time Traveler

The first known use of adjective was in the 14th century

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Statistics for adjective

Last Updated

2 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Adjective.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adjective. Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for adjective

adjective

noun

English Language Learners Definition of adjective

: a word that describes a noun or a pronoun

adjective

noun
ad·​jec·​tive | \ ˈa-jik-tiv How to pronounce adjective (audio) \

Kids Definition of adjective

: a word that says something about a noun or pronoun In the phrases “good people,” “someone good,” “it's good to be here,” and “they seem very good” the word “good” is an adjective.

More from Merriam-Webster on adjective

Nglish: Translation of adjective for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of adjective for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about adjective

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