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  1. designating or pertaining to a verb mood, as in Greek, that has among its functions the expression of a wish, as Greek íoimen “may we go, we wish we might go.”
  1. the optative mood.
  2. a verb in the optative mood.

Origin of optative

1520–30; < Late Latin optātīvus, equivalent to Latin optāt(us) (past participle of optāre; see opt, -ate1) + -īvus -ive
Related formsop·ta·tive·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for optative

Historical Examples

  • In the following, an aorist is followed not by an optative, but by a subjunctive.

    The English Language

    Robert Gordon Latham

  • This verb is optative: so are ‘(may) scorch,’ ‘(may) fill,’ ‘may roll,’ and ‘may be crowned.’

    Milton's Comus

    John Milton

  • Associated words: desiderative, desideratum, orectic, optative.

    Putnam's Word Book

    Louis A. Flemming

  • But in determining accent final –– and –– are counted short except in the optative mode and in a few words, , .

    A Greek Primer

    Wallace Stearns

  • She means an indicative, but wishes her mother to understand her in the optative mood.

British Dictionary definitions for optative


  1. indicating or expressing choice, preference, or wish
  2. grammar denoting a mood of verbs in Greek, Sanskrit, etc, expressing a wish
  1. grammar
    1. the optative mood
    2. a verb in this mood

Word Origin

C16: via French optatif, from Late Latin optātīvus, from Latin optāre to desire
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 optative

in reference to grammatical mood expressing wish or desire, 1520s, from Middle French optatif (15c.), from Late Latin optativus, from Latin optatus "wished, desired, longed for," past participle of optare "to choose, wish, desire" (see option).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper