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verb (used without object)
  1. to bring forth a fetus from the uterus before the fetus is viable; miscarry.
  2. to develop incompletely; remain in a rudimentary or undeveloped state.
  3. to fail, cease, or stop at an early or premature stage.
  4. Military. to fail to accomplish a purpose or mission for any reason other than enemy action.
  5. Rocketry. (of a missile) to stop before the scheduled flight is completed.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to cause to bring forth (a fetus) from the uterus before the fetus is viable.
  2. to cause (a pregnant female) to be delivered of a nonviable fetus.
  3. to cause to cease or end at an early or premature stage: We aborted our vacation when the car broke down.
  4. to terminate (a missile flight, mission, etc.) before completion.
  5. to put down or quell in the early stages: Troops aborted the uprising.
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  1. a missile, rocket, etc., that has aborted.
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Origin of abort

1570–80; < Latin abortus miscarried (past participle of aborīrī to disappear, miscarry) equivalent to ab- ab- + -or- come into being + -tus past participle suffix
Related formsun·a·bort·ed, adjective
Can be confusedaboard abort abroad
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for abort

scrub, halt, scrap, terminate, nullify, interrupt, miscarry, end, scratch, drop, arrest, fail, check

Examples from the Web for abort

Contemporary Examples of abort

Historical Examples of abort

British Dictionary definitions for abort


  1. to undergo or cause (a woman) to undergo the termination of pregnancy before the fetus is viable
  2. (tr) to cause (a fetus) to be expelled from the womb before it is viable
  3. (intr) to fail to come to completion; go wrong
  4. (tr) to stop the development of; cause to be abandoned
  5. (intr) to give birth to a dead or nonviable fetus
  6. (of a space flight, military operation, etc) to fail or terminate prematurely
  7. (intr) (of an organism or part of an organism) to fail to develop into the mature form
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  1. the premature termination or failure of (a space flight, military operation, etc)
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Word Origin for abort

C16: from Latin abortāre, from the past participle of aborīrī to miscarry, from ab- wrongly, badly + orīrī to appear, arise, be born
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 abort


1570s, "to miscarry," from Latin abortus, past participle of aboriri "to miscarry" (see abortive); 1610s as "to deliberately terminate" anything, but especially a pregnancy, which seems to be the literal sense. Transitive meaning "to cause a woman to miscarry" is recorded from 1933. Related: Aborted; aborting.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

abort in Medicine


  1. To expel or cause to expel an embryo or fetus before it is viable.
  2. To arrest a disease in its earliest stages.
  3. To arrest in growth or development; to cause to remain rudimentary.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.