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[in-fin-i-tiv] /ɪnˈfɪn ɪ tɪv/ Grammar
a verb form found in many languages that functions as a noun or is used with auxiliary verbs, and that names the action or state without specifying the subject, as French venir “to come,” Latin esse “to be,” fuisse “to have been.”.
(in English) the simple or basic form of the verb, as come, take, eat, be, used after auxiliary verbs, as in I didn't come, He must be, or this simple form preceded by a function word, as to in I want to eat.
consisting of or containing an infinitive:
an infinitive construction.
Abbreviation: infin.
Origin of infinitive
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English < Late Latin infīnītīvus indefinite, equivalent to in- in-3 + fīnītīvus definite; see finite, -ive
Related forms
infinitively, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for infinitive
Historical Examples
  • The infinitive of a verb is treated almost exactly like a noun.

  • From jamar, the infinitive of "to eat," the regular conjugation should be jame, "I have eaten."

    Carmen Prosper Merimee
  • This was lost before -an of the infinitive, contraction and compensatory lengthening being the result.

  • The infinitive Mood has the Signs to, about; as to love, about to love.

  • The soldiers were compelled to desertion: preferably with the infinitive, compelled to desert.

    English Synonyms and Antonyms James Champlin Fernald
  • The rest as the pluperfect of gwîl, or of menny, to will, with the infinitive.

  • Do not split the infinitive unless by so doing you express your idea more accurately.

    Plain English Marian Wharton
  • And the rest as the subjunctive or imperfect of gwîl with the infinitive.

  • When we can choose, it is generally better to use the verb in the infinitive than in the participial form.

    The Verbalist Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)
  • (in, not) An infinitive is that verb which is not limited by person and number.

    Orthography Elmer W. Cavins
British Dictionary definitions for infinitive


noun (grammar)
a form of the verb not inflected for grammatical categories such as tense and person and used without an overt subject. In English, the infinitive usually consists of the word to followed by the verb
Derived Forms
infinitival (ˌɪnfɪnɪˈtaɪvəl) adjective
infinitively, infinitivally, adverb
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
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Word Origin and History for infinitive

"simple, uninflected form of a verb," 1510s (mid-15c. as an adjective), from Late Latin infinitivus "unlimited, indefinite," from Latin infinitus (see infinite). "Indefinite" because not having definite person or number.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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infinitive in Culture

infinitive definition

The simple or dictionary form of a verb: walk, think, fly, exist. Often the word to marks a verb as an infinitive: “to walk,” “to think,” “to fly,” “to exist.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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