in·​fin·​i·​tive | \ in-ˈfi-nə-tiv How to pronounce infinitive (audio) \

Definition of infinitive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: formed with the infinitive



Definition of infinitive (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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")

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Other Words from infinitive


infinitively adverb

Examples of infinitive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective This substitution of the conjunction and for the to that is part of an infinitive verb happens almost exclusively with the verb try. Richard Lederer, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'infinitive.' 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 infinitive


15th century, in the meaning defined above


1530, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for infinitive


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


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

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Time Traveler for infinitive

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near infinitive




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Cite this Entry

“Infinitive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for infinitive



English Language Learners Definition of infinitive

: the basic form of a verb


in·​fin·​i·​tive | \ in-ˈfi-nə-tiv How to pronounce infinitive (audio) \

Kids Definition of infinitive

: a verb form serving as a noun or as a modifier and at the same time taking objects and adverbial modifiers In the sentence "I have nothing to do," "to do" is an infinitive.

More from Merriam-Webster on infinitive

Nglish: Translation of infinitive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of infinitive for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about infinitive


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