[ pahr-tuh-sip-uhl ]
See synonyms for participle on
  1. a form derived from a verb, used in English as an adjective to express participation in the action or state of the verb, or combined with an auxiliary verb to construct any of various tenses, as in aburningcandle, aknownfact,I amfreezing,She hasgone: a participle does not specify person or number, but may have a subject or object, show tense, etc.

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Origin of participle

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Middle French, variant of participe, from Latin participium, derivative of particeps “taking part,” from parti- (stem of pars “piece, portion”; see part ) + -ceps “taking” (combining form of capere “to take”)

Grammar notes for participle

Words Nearby participle Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use participle in a sentence

  • This is the termination of the present participle and verbal adjective derived from verbs in -a.

    Frdric Mistral | Charles Alfred Downer
  • Bessoun (in French, besson) means a twin, and the participle expresses the idea, clasped together like twins.

    Frdric Mistral | Charles Alfred Downer
  • "Nay, I wanna thinking-g o' that," Ned replied, strongly doubling the "g" that terminated the present participle.

    Mushroom Town | Oliver Onions
  • In this participle the termination -ing seems almost equivalent to that of the past participle: comp.

    Milton's Comus | John Milton
  • Trod (or trodden), past participle of tread: ‘to tread a measure’ is a common expression, meaning ‘to dance.’

    Milton's Comus | John Milton

British Dictionary definitions for participle


/ (ˈpɑːtɪsɪpəl, pɑːˈtɪsɪpəl) /

  1. a nonfinite form of verbs, in English and other languages, used adjectivally and in the formation of certain compound tenses: See also present participle, past participle

Origin of participle

C14: via Old French from Latin participium, from particeps partaker, from pars part + capere to take

Derived forms of participle

  • participial (ˌpɑːtɪˈsɪpɪəl), adjective, noun
  • participially, 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

Cultural definitions for participle


[ (pahr-tuh-sip-uhl) ]

The verb form that combines with an auxiliary verb to indicate certain tenses.

The present participle is formed by adding -ing to the infinitive; it indicates present action: “The girl is swimming”; “I am thinking.” (Compare gerund.)

The past participle usually ends in -ed; it indicates completed or past action: “The gas station has closed”; “The mayor had spoken.”

Participles may also function as adjectives: “Your mother is a charming person”; “This is a talking parrot”; “Spoken words cannot be revoked.”

Notes for participle

A “dangling” participle is one that is not clearly connected to the word it modifies: “Standing at the corner, two children walked past me.” A better version of this example would be, “While I was standing at the corner, two children walked past me.”

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.