Definition of transitive
1 : characterized by having or containing a direct object a transitive verb
2 : being or relating to a relation with the property that if the relation holds between a first element and a second and between the second element and a third, it holds between the first and third elements equality is a transitive relation
3 : of, relating to, or characterized by transition
transitivityplay \ˌtran(t)-sə-ˈti-və-tē, ˌtran-zə-\ noun
Examples of transitive in a Sentence
In “I like pie” and “She makes hats,” the verbs “like” and “makes” are transitive.
Recent Examples of transitive from the Web
That’s because Scott’s latest, Alien: Covenant, is quite explicitly both a sequel to Prometheus and a prequel to Alien, so by the transitive property—
Clemson’s dazzling victory also made Illinois State a transitive champion: ISU > Northwestern > Pitt > Clemson.
By the transitive property of celebrity, actors can be politicians.
And if industry dynamics are not transitive across the board, expertise isn’t, either.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'transitive'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
What is the difference between a transitive verb and an intransitive verb?
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object, which is a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase that follows the verb and completes the sentence's meaning by indicating the person or thing that receives the action of the verb. The direct object typically answers the question what? or whom?:
The kids like pickles.
That really annoys me.
Have they sold their house yet?
An intransitive verb is not used with a direct object. If something comes after an intransitive verb, that is, in the position usually inhabited by the direct object, it doesn't answer what? or whom?; instead it answers a question like where?, when?, how?, or how long?:
Her car died suddenly last week.
Someone was coughing loudly.
A single verb can have both transitive and intransitive uses:
They are playing soccer.
They've been playing all afternoon.
A transitive verb can also have an indirect object, which is a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase that comes before a direct object and indicates the person or thing that receives what is being given or done. Many common verbs can be used with both direct and indirect objects. In the following examples the indirect object is in italics:
Find her a chair.
Can you read me the letter?
Who gave her lawyers the information?
He's saving Caitlin a piece.
Origin and Etymology of transitive
Late Latin transitivus, from Latin transitus, past participle of transire
First Known Use: 1590See Words from the same year
TRANSITIVE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of transitive for English Language Learners
grammar of a verb : having or taking a direct object
TRANSITIVE Defined for Kids
Definition of transitive for Students
: having or containing a direct object transitive verbs
Seen and Heard
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