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


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: 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")

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
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
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 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.

Word History



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

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined above


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.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



: 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

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