[ tran-si-tiv, -zi- ]

  1. Grammar. having the nature of a transitive verb.

  2. characterized by or involving transition; transitional; intermediate.

  1. passing over to or affecting something else; transeunt.

  2. Mathematics. noting a relation in which one element in relation to a second element and the second in relation to a third element implies the first element is in relation to the third element, as the relation “less than or equal to.”

  1. Grammar. a transitive verb.

Origin of transitive

First recorded in 1550–60; from Late Latin trānsitīvus, equivalent to Latin trānsit(us) (see transition) + -īvus -ive

Other words from transitive

  • tran·si·tive·ly, adverb
  • tran·si·tive·ness, tran·si·tiv·i·ty, noun
  • non·tran·si·tive, adjective, noun
  • non·tran·si·tive·ly, adverb
  • non·tran·si·tive·ness, noun
  • un·tran·si·tive, adjective
  • un·tran·si·tive·ly, adverb
  • un·tran·si·tive·ness, noun

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

How to use transitive in a sentence

  • To grammarians and logicians these have seemed more primitive than the transitive, or at least exceptions to the transitive.

    Instigations | Ezra Pound
  • I found that it was his persistent, natural, and magnificent use of hundreds of transitive verbs.

    Instigations | Ezra Pound

British Dictionary definitions for transitive


/ (ˈtrænsɪtɪv) /

  1. grammar

    • denoting an occurrence of a verb when it requires a direct object or denoting a verb that customarily requires a direct object: ``to find'' is a transitive verb

    • (as noun): these verbs are transitives

  2. grammar denoting an adjective, such as fond, or a noun, such as husband, that requires a noun phrase and cannot be used without some implicit or explicit reference to such a noun phrase

  1. logic maths having the property that if one object bears a relationship to a second object that also bears the same relationship to a third object, then the first object bears this relationship to the third object: mathematical equality is transitive, since if x = y and y = z then x = z

Origin of transitive

C16: from Late Latin transitīvus from Latin transitus a going over; see transient

Derived forms of transitive

  • transitively, adverb
  • transitivity or transitiveness, noun

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

Scientific definitions for transitive


[ trănsĭ-tĭv ]

  1. Of or relating to a mathematical or logical relation between three elements such that if the relation holds between the first and second elements and between the second and third elements, it necessarily holds between the first and third elements. The relation of being greater than in mathematics is transitive, since if a > b and b > c, then a > c.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.