- (in certain languages, as Basque, Eskimo, and some Caucasian languages) noting a case that indicates the subject of a transitive verb and is distinct from the case indicating the subject of an intransitive verb.
- similar to such a case in function or meaning, especially in indicating an agent, as the subject She in She opened the door, in contrast to the subject The door in The door opened.
- Linguistics. pertaining to a type of language that has an ergative case or in which the direct object of a transitive verb has the same form as the subject of an intransitive verb.Compare accusative(def 2).
- the ergative case.
- a word in the ergative case.
- a form or construction of similar function or meaning.
Origin of ergative
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- denoting a type of verb that takes the same noun as either direct object or as subject, with equivalent meaning. Thus, "fuse" is an ergative verb: "He fused the lights" and "The lights fused" have equivalent meaning
- denoting a case of nouns in certain languages, for example, Inuktitut or Basque, marking a noun used interchangeably as either the direct object of a transitive verb or the subject of an intransitive verb
- denoting a language that has ergative verbs or ergative nouns
- an ergative verb
- an ergative noun or case of nouns
C20: from Greek ergatēs a workman + -ive
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 ergative
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper