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Origin of articulate

First recorded in 1530–40; from Latin articulātus, past participle of articulāre “to divide into distinct parts”; see origin at article, -ate1

synonym study for articulate

4. See eloquent.

historical usage of articulate

The English adjective articulate first appears in print in 1531 in the meaning “uttered clearly and distinctly.” The verb articulate first appears about 20 years later, in the sense “to formulate in articles, set out, specify.”
Articulate comes from Latin articulātus, the past participle of articulāre “to divide into separate, distinct parts,” a derivative of the noun articulus “joint (of a body), point (of time), clause or section (of a contract or law), a single word in a phrase, clause, or sentence pronounced by itself, a pronoun or pronominal adjective, an article (definite or indefinite).”
As for the last definition, “an article (definite or indefinite, such as the or a in English),” the great, usually levelheaded Roman rhetorician Quintilian wrote Noster sermō articulōs nōn dēsīderat (“Our language does not desire articles”). Quintilian was contrasting Latin, which indeed had no articles, with Greek, which had a fully inflected definite article for all genders, numbers, and cases. Quintilian is proven wrong by the definite and indefinite articles in all the Romance languages.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use articulate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for articulate


adjective (ɑːˈtɪkjʊlɪt)
verb (ɑːˈtɪkjʊˌleɪt)

Derived forms of articulate

articulately, adverbarticulateness or articulacy, noun

Word Origin for articulate

C16: from Latin articulāre to divide into joints; see article
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