fi·​nite | \ ˈfī-ˌnīt How to pronounce finite (audio) \

Definition of finite

1a : having definite or definable limits a finite number of possibilities
b : having a limited nature or existence finite beings
2 : completely determinable in theory or in fact by counting, measurement, or thought the finite velocity of light
3a : less than an arbitrary positive integer and greater than the negative of that integer
b : having a finite number of elements a finite set
4 : of, relating to, or being a verb or verb form that can function as a predicate or as the initial element of one and that is limited (as in tense, person, and number) finite verbs such as "is" and "are"

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Other Words from finite

finite noun
finitely adverb
finiteness noun

Examples of finite in a Sentence

a finite number of possibilities the earth's finite supply of natural resources the finite human life span a finite verb such as “is” or “are”
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Recent Examples on the Web Facebook has argued in recent months that data is not a finite resource capable of monopolization, like oil, but something that can be both shared and stored. Sara Germano, WSJ, "German Court Rules Against Facebook on Data Protection," 24 Jan. 2020 And everyone should practice social distancing to preserve the health care system's finite resources. Anchorage Daily News, "In hard-hit areas, testing restricted to health care workers, hospital patients," 21 Mar. 2020 Abigail Stewart-Kahn, director of strategy and external affairs for the homeless department, said poring the city’s finite resources into temporary shelter spaces will distract from the ultimate goal of creating more housing units. Trisha Thadani,, "Shelter vs. housing: SF officials debate beds for homeless in every district," 6 Feb. 2020 Despite the harrowing circumstances—a finite supply of food, limited cellphone service, cramped quarters, and a dreary winter landscape on all sides—the atmosphere in the train has been surprisingly festive, reports CNN. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Amtrak Train with 183 People On Board Has Been Stranded in Oregon Snow for 36 Hours," 26 Feb. 2019 Because of finite testing capabilities when the outbreak hit, there’s not enough information about how many cases are incubating in the community. Nic Garcia, Dallas News, "Why a patchwork of ‘stay-at-home’ orders is dangerous for North Texas," 27 Mar. 2020 The players, meanwhile, live in a far more finite world. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "MLB's best hope for a 2020 season? Players and owners alike have a lot to lose," 24 Mar. 2020 But the two countries can both take immediate steps to achieve a humanitarian pause that reduces the risk of unwanted conflict and lets both sides focus their finite attention and resources on the health emergency at hand. Daniel Benaim, The New Republic, "The Coronavirus Could Kill Millions. U.S.-Iran Hostilities Will Make It Worse.," 23 Mar. 2020 Splitting the chart is a line: the finite capacity of the health care system. NBC News, "What is 'flatten the curve'? The chart that shows how critical it is for everyone to fight coronavirus spread," 11 Mar. 2020

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for finite

Middle English, borrowed from Latin fīnītus "specific, definite, having bounds or limits," from past participle of fīnīre "to mark out the boundaries, limit, put an end to, bring to a close" — more at finish entry 1

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Time Traveler for finite

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for finite

Last Updated

3 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Finite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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How to pronounce finite (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of finite

: having limits : having a limited nature
grammar : of or relating to a verb form that shows action that takes place at a particular time (such as the past)


fi·​nite | \ ˈfī-ˌnīt How to pronounce finite (audio) \

Kids Definition of finite

: having definite limits I was given a finite number of choices.

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More from Merriam-Webster on finite

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for finite

Spanish Central: Translation of finite

Nglish: Translation of finite for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of finite for Arabic Speakers

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