1 of 2


ap·​pos·​i·​tive ə-ˈpä-zə-tiv How to pronounce appositive (audio)
plural appositives
: a pair or occasionally a series of usually adjacent words, phrases, or clauses (especially nouns or noun equivalents) that have the same referent and that stand in the same syntactical relation to the rest of the sentence (such as the poet and Burns in "a biography of the poet Burns") : a pair or series of words, phrases, or clauses standing in grammatical apposition
To succeed in the genre, a writer has got to accentuate the appositive, that key phrase between the first two commas telling you just who the corpse was and what he did. [Robert McGill] Thomas [Jr.] can hold this syntactical note longer than Placido Domingo: "Benjamin Eisenstadt, the innovative Brooklyn businessman who set Americans to shaking their sugar before sweetening their coffee and then shook up the entire sweetener industry as the developer of Sweet'n Low, died at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center."Thomas Mallon


2 of 2


: of, relating to, or standing in grammatical apposition : of, relating to, or being a grammatical appositive
an appositive word/phrase/clause
appositively adverb

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
The first phrase is an appositive—typically a noun or noun phrase that modifies another noun or noun phrase, which appears next to it in the sentence. David Owen, The New Yorker, 12 Jan. 2023

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

Word History



derivative of appositive entry 2


borrowed from Late Latin appositīvus, from Latin appositus "situated near, ready at hand, suitable" + -īvus -ive — more at apposite

First Known Use


1834, in the meaning defined above


1693, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of appositive was in 1693

Dictionary Entries Near appositive

Cite this Entry

“Appositive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
: of, relating to, or standing in apposition
appositively adverb


2 of 2 noun
: the second of a pair of nouns or noun equivalents in apposition
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

Challenging Standardized Test Words

  • high school student holding a pencil leaning over a sat test
  • Despite the cacophony, the student tried to study.
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?