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First attested in 1382, with the meaning "causing stillbirth or miscarriage". From Middle English, from Old French abortif,[1] from Latin abortīvus (causing abortion), from aborior (miscarry, disappear), from ab (amiss) + orīor (appear, be born, arise)[2].



abortive (comparative more abortive, superlative most abortive)

  1. (obsolete) Produced by abortion; born prematurely. [Attested from around (1350 to 1470) until the mid 18th century.][1]
    an abortive child
  2. Coming to naught; failing in its effect; miscarrying; fruitless; unsuccessful. [First attested in the late 16th century.][1]
    an abortive attempt
    • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost, 1799 edition:
      [] and with utter loss of being / Threatens him, plung'd in that abortive gulf.
    • (Can we date this quote?), William H. Prescott, (Please provide the book title or journal name):
      An abortive enterprise.
  3. (biology) Imperfectly formed or developed; rudimentary; sterile. [First attested in the mid 18th century.][1]
    an abortive organ
    an abortive stamen
    an abortive ovule
  4. (medicine, rare, attributive) Causing abortion; abortifacient
    abortive medicines
  5. (medicine) Cutting short; acting to halt or slow the progress (of a disease).
    abortive treatment of typhoid fever
  6. Made from the skin of a still-born animal.
    abortive vellum


Derived terms[edit]


abortive (plural abortives)

  1. (obsolete) That which is born or brought forth prematurely; an abortion. [Attested from around (1150 to 1350) until the mid 18th century.][1]
    • 1592, Shakespeare, Richard III, I-iii:
      Thou elvish-mark'd, abortive, rooting hog!
  2. (obsolete) A fruitless effort or issue. [Attested from the early 17th century until the early 18th century.][1]
  3. (obsolete) A medicine to which is attributed the property of causing abortion, abortifacient.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


abortive (third-person singular simple present abortives, present participle abortiving, simple past and past participle abortived)

  1. (transitive, obsolete) To cause an abortion; to render without fruit. [Attested only in the 17th century.][1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Lesley Brown (editor), The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 5th edition (Oxford University Press, 2003 [1933], ISBN 978-0198605751), page 7
  2. ^ Elliott K. Dobbie, C. William Dunmore, Robert K. Barnhart, et al. (editors), Chambers Dictionary of Etymology (Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, 2004 [1998], ISBN 0550142304), page 4




  1. feminine singular of abortif



abortive f pl

  1. feminine plural of abortivo





  1. vocative masculine singular of abortīvus