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  1. (in some inflected languages) noting a case that has among its functions the indication of place from which or, as in Latin, place in which, manner, means, instrument, or agent.
  1. the ablative case.
  2. a word in that case, as Troiā in Latin Aenēas Troiā vēnit, “Aeneas came from Troy.”

Origin of ablative1

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English word from Latin word ablātīvus. See ablate, -ive
Related formsab·la·ti·val [ab-luh-tahy-vuh l] /ˌæb ləˈtaɪ vəl/, adjective


  1. capable of or susceptible to ablation; tending to ablate: the ablative nose cone of a rocket.

Origin of ablative2

First recorded in 1560–70; ablate + -ive
Related formsab·la·tive·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ablative

Historical Examples

  • Third, the ablative form of a noun signifying a portion of the body.

    Harper's Young People, September 14, 1880


  • The same form of the ablative at Tr V ii 20 'pleno de mare'.

  • To-night I have a pressing engagement with the Ablative Absolute.

    Daddy Long-Legs

    Jean Webster

  • Living Latin had only the feel of the cases: the ablative and dative emotion.


    Ezra Pound

  • Try to remember, Quinlan, what I told you about the use of the ablative absolute.

    Short Sixes

    H. C. Bunner

British Dictionary definitions for ablative


  1. (in certain inflected languages such as Latin) denoting a case of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives indicating the agent in passive sentences or the instrument, manner, or place of the action described by the verb
    1. the ablative case
    2. a word or speech element in the ablative case
  1. taking away or removingablative surgery
  2. able to disintegrate or be worn away at a very high temperaturea thick layer of ablative material
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for ablative


mid-15c., from Middle French ablatif, from Latin (casus) ablativus "(case) of removal," expressing direction from a place or time, coined by Julius Caesar from ablatus "taken away," past participle of auferre "carrying away," from ab- "away" (see ab-) + irregular verb ferre (past participle latum; see oblate) "to carry, to bear" (see infer).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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