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[tran-si-tiv, -zi-] /ˈtræn sɪ tɪv, -zɪ-/
Grammar. having the nature of a transitive verb.
characterized by or involving transition; transitional; intermediate.
passing over to or affecting something else; transeunt.
Mathematics. noting a relation in which one element in relation to a second element and the second in relation to a third element implies the first element is in relation to the third element, as the relation “less than or equal to.”.
Grammar. transitive verb.
Origin of transitive
1550-60; < Late Latin trānsitīvus, equivalent to Latin trānsit(us) (see transition) + -īvus -ive
Related forms
transitively, adverb
transitiveness, transitivity, noun
nontransitive, adjective, noun
nontransitively, adverb
nontransitiveness, noun
untransitive, adjective
untransitively, adverb
untransitiveness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for transitively
Historical Examples
  • Milton uses it transitively in Lycidas, 29: "Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night."

    The Lady of the Lake Sir Walter Scott
British Dictionary definitions for transitively


  1. denoting an occurrence of a verb when it requires a direct object or denoting a verb that customarily requires a direct object: ``to find'' is a transitive verb
  2. (as noun): these verbs are transitives
(grammar) denoting an adjective, such as fond, or a noun, such as husband, that requires a noun phrase and cannot be used without some implicit or explicit reference to such a noun phrase
(logic, maths) having the property that if one object bears a relationship to a second object that also bears the same relationship to a third object, then the first object bears this relationship to the third object: mathematical equality is transitive, since if x = y and y = z then x = z
Compare intransitive
Derived Forms
transitively, adverb
transitivity, transitiveness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin transitīvus from Latin transitus a going over; see transient
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 transitively



"taking a direct object" (of verbs), 1570s (implied in transitively), from Late Latin transitivus (Priscian) "transitive," literally "that may pass over (to another person)," from transire "go or cross over" (see transient).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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transitively in Science
Of or relating to a mathematical or logical relation between three elements such that if the relation holds between the first and second elements and between the second and third elements, it necessarily holds between the first and third elements. The relation of being greater than in mathematics is transitive, since if a > b and b > c, then a > c.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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