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[pahr-tuh-sip-uh l, -suh-puh l] /ˈpɑr təˌsɪp əl, -sə pəl/
noun, Grammar.
an adjective or complement to certain auxiliaries that is regularly derived from the verb in many languages and refers to participation in the action or state of the verb; a verbal form used as an adjective. It does not specify person or number in English, but may have a subject or object, show tense, etc., as burning, in a burning candle, or devoted in his devoted friend.
Origin of participle
1350-1400; Middle English < Middle French, variant of participe < Latin participium, derivative of particeps taking part, equivalent to parti- (stem of pars) part + -cep- (combining form of capere to take) + -s nominative singular ending
Usage note Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for participle
Historical Examples
  • The infinitive is often used in poetry after a verb of motion where we should use the present participle.

    Beowulf Unknown
  • The participle may also have the character of an adjective, the adverb either of an adjective or of a preposition.

    Cratylus Plato
  • This form of the past participle of the verb to light is now obsolete.

    The Verbalist Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)
  • Ago is derived from the participle agone, while since comes from a preposition.

    The Verbalist Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)
  • Flown is the past participle of to fly, and flowed of to flow.

    The Verbalist Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)
  • This form for the past participle of the verb to prove is said to be a Scotticism.

    The Verbalist Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)
  • It is sat or satya, sat being the participle of the verb as, to be.

  • Youth dreams in the future tense; age, in the past participle.

    Days Off

    Henry Van Dyke
  • The rest as in the present tense of bos, to be, followed by the present participle.

  • The rest as the present of bos, followed by the past participle.

British Dictionary definitions for participle


/ˈpɑːtɪsɪpəl; pɑːˈtɪsɪpəl/
a nonfinite form of verbs, in English and other languages, used adjectivally and in the formation of certain compound tenses See also present participle, past participle
Derived Forms
participial (ˌpɑːtɪˈsɪpɪəl) adjective, noun
participially, adverb
Word Origin
C14: via Old French from Latin participium, from particeps partaker, from parspart + capere to take
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 participle

late 14c., "a noun-adjective," from Old French participle (13c.), variant of participe, from Latin participium, literally "a sharing, partaking," from particeps "sharing, partaking" (see participation). In grammatical sense, the Latin translates Greek metokhe "sharer, partaker," and the notion is of a word "partaking" of the nature of both a noun and an adjective.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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participle in Culture
participle [(pahr-tuh-sip-uhl)]

The verb form that combines with an auxiliary verb to indicate certain tenses.

The present participle is formed by adding -ing to the infinitive; it indicates present action: “The girl is swimming”; “I am thinking.” (Compare gerund.)

The past participle usually ends in -ed; it indicates completed or past action: “The gas station has closed”; “The mayor had spoken.”

Participles may also function as adjectives: “Your mother is a charming person”; “This is a talking parrot”; “Spoken words cannot be revoked.”

Note: A “dangling” participle is one that is not clearly connected to the word it modifies: “Standing at the corner, two children walked past me.” A better version of this example would be, “While I was standing at the corner, two children walked past me.”
The 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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