[tran-si-tiv, -zi-]
  1. Grammar. having the nature of a transitive verb.
  2. characterized by or involving transition; transitional; intermediate.
  3. passing over to or affecting something else; transeunt.
  4. 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. transitive verb.

Origin of transitive

1550–60; < Late Latin trānsitīvus, equivalent to Latin trānsit(us) (see transition) + -īvus -ive
Related formstran·si·tive·ly, adverbtran·si·tive·ness, tran·si·tiv·i·ty, nounnon·tran·si·tive, adjective, nounnon·tran·si·tive·ly, adverbnon·tran·si·tive·ness, nounun·tran·si·tive, adjectiveun·tran·si·tive·ly, adverbun·tran·si·tive·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for transitive

Historical Examples of transitive

British Dictionary definitions for transitive


  1. grammar
    1. 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
    2. (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
  3. 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 objectmathematical equality is transitive, since if x = y and y = z then x = z
Compare intransitive
Derived Formstransitively, adverbtransitivity or transitiveness, noun

Word Origin for transitive

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

"taking a direct object" (of verbs), 1570s (implied in transitively), from Late Latin transitivus (Priscian) "transitive," literally "that may pass over (to another person)," from transire "go or cross over" (see transient).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

transitive in Science


  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.