(in certain inflected languages, as Latin, Greek, and German) noting a case having as a distinctive function indication of the indirect object of a verb or the object of certain prepositions.


the dative case.
a word or form in that case, as Latin regi in regi haec dicite meaning “tell this to the king.”

Origin of dative

1400–50; late Middle English datif < Latin datīvus (casus) dative (case), equivalent to dat(us) given (see date1) + -īvus -ive; translation of Greek dotikḗ (ptôsis)
Related formsda·ti·val [dey-tahy-vuh l] /deɪˈtaɪ vəl/, adjectiveda·tive·ly, adverbnon·da·ti·val, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dative

Historical Examples of dative

British Dictionary definitions for dative



denoting a case of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives used to express the indirect object, to identify the recipients, and for other purposes


  1. the dative case
  2. a word or speech element in this case
Derived Formsdatival (deɪˈtaɪvəl), adjectivedatively, adverb

Word Origin for dative

C15: from Latin datīvus, from dare to give; translation of Greek dotikos
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 dative

mid-15c., from Latin dativus "pertaining to giving," from datus "given" (see date (n.1)); in grammatical use from Greek dotike (ptosis) "dative (case)," from dotikos "of giving nature," from dotos "given," from PIE root *do- "to give," from the same PIE root as the Latin word. In law, "that may be disposed of at pleasure," from 1530s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper