infinitive

1 of 2

adjective

in·​fin·​i·​tive in-ˈfi-nə-tiv How to pronounce infinitive (audio)
: formed with the infinitive
infinitively adverb

infinitive

2 of 2

noun

: a verb form normally identical in English with the first person singular that performs some functions of a noun and at the same time displays some characteristics of a verb and that is used with to (as in "I asked him to go") except with auxiliary and various other verbs (as in "no one saw him leave")

Examples of infinitive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
The infinitive originally appeared in Hellenistic Greek (spoken from approximately 4th century B.C.E. to 6th century C.E.), but became obsolete in Medieval times as all Greek varieties except for Romeyka ditched it. Jack Knudson, Discover Magazine, 2 Apr. 2024
Noun
Advertisement When infinitives are cleft, some folks, regardless of actual profession, become exercised. Richard Lederer, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Jan. 2024 James Tiberius Kirk used to boldly go where no one has gone before — and never apologized for splitting the infinitive. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, 23 Apr. 2022 To love, synonymous with to be, a defective verb that only knows the present infinitive. Claudio Magris, Harper's Magazine, 25 May 2021 Shakespeare split just one infinitive, the King James Bible none. The Economist, 26 Apr. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'infinitive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English infinityf, borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French infinitif, borrowed from Late Latin infīnītīvus, from Latin infīnītus "not specified, indefinite, of a verbal form that does not specify person or number" + -īvus -ive — more at infinite entry 1

Noun

borrowed from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French infinitif, borrowed from Medieval Latin infīnītīvus, noun derivative of Late Latin infīnītīvus infinitive entry 1

First Known Use

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun

1530, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of infinitive was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near infinitive

Cite this Entry

“Infinitive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/infinitive. Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

infinitive

noun
in·​fin·​i·​tive
in-ˈfin-ət-iv
: a verb form serving as a noun or as a modifier and at the same time taking objects and adverbial modifiers
"carry" in "help them carry it" and "to do" in "they have nothing to do" are infinitives
infinitive adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on infinitive

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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