a verb form found in many languages that functions as a noun or is used with auxiliary verbs, and that names the action or state without specifying the subject, as French venir “to come,” Latin esse “to be,” fuisse “to have been.”
(in English) the simple or basic form of the verb, as come, take, eat, be, used after auxiliary verbs, as in I didn't come, He must be, or this simple form preceded by a function word, as to in I want to eat.


consisting of or containing an infinitive: an infinitive construction. Abbreviation: infin.

Origin of infinitive

1425–75; late Middle English < Late Latin infīnītīvus indefinite, equivalent to in- in-3 + fīnītīvus definite; see finite, -ive
Related formsin·fin·i·tive·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for infinitive

deponent, gerund, participle

Examples from the Web for infinitive

Historical Examples of infinitive

  • The infinitive is often used in poetry after a verb of motion where we should use the present participle.



  • The infinitive mood is like a gentlemans cab, because it has no number.

  • The past tense, third person plural, of the infinitive Fitnah.

  • From jamar, the infinitive of "to eat," the regular conjugation should be jame, "I have eaten."


    Prosper Merimee

  • The Infinitive Mood has the Signs to, about; as to love, about to love.

British Dictionary definitions for infinitive


noun grammar

a form of the verb not inflected for grammatical categories such as tense and person and used without an overt subject. In English, the infinitive usually consists of the word to followed by the verb
Derived Formsinfinitival (ˌɪnfɪnɪˈtaɪvəl), adjectiveinfinitively or infinitivally, adverb
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 infinitive

"simple, uninflected form of a verb," 1510s (mid-15c. as an adjective), from Late Latin infinitivus "unlimited, indefinite," from Latin infinitus (see infinite). "Indefinite" because not having definite person or number.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

infinitive in Culture


The simple or dictionary form of a verb: walk, think, fly, exist. Often the word to marks a verb as an infinitive: “to walk,” “to think,” “to fly,” “to exist.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.