er·​ga·​tive ˈər-gə-tiv How to pronounce ergative (audio)
: of, relating to, or being a language (such as Inuit or Georgian) in which the objects of transitive verbs and subjects of intransitive verbs are typically marked by the same linguistic forms
also : being an inflectional morpheme that typically marks the subject of a transitive verb in an ergative language

Word History


Greek ergatēs worker, from ergon work

First Known Use

1939, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ergative was in 1939

Dictionary Entries Near ergative

Cite this Entry

“Ergative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

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