[ vok-uh-tiv ]
/ ˈvɒk ə tɪv /


Grammar. (in certain inflected languages, as Latin) noting or pertaining to a case used to indicate that a noun refers to a person or thing being addressed.
of, relating to, or used in calling, specifying, or addressing.

noun Grammar.

the vocative case.
a word in the vocative, as Latin Paule “O Paul.”

Origin of vocative

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin vocātīvus (cāsus) calling (case), equivalent to vocāt(us) (see vocation) + -īvus -ive
Related formsvoc·a·tive·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for vocative

British Dictionary definitions for vocative


/ (ˈvɒkətɪv) /


relating to, used in, or characterized by calling
grammar denoting a case of nouns, in some inflected languages, used when the referent of the noun is being addressed


  1. the vocative case
  2. a vocative noun or speech element
Derived Formsvocatively, adverb

Word Origin for vocative

C15: from Latin phrase vocātīvus cāsus the calling case, from vocāre to call
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 vocative



mid-15c., "showing the person or thing spoken to," from Middle French vocatif (fem. vocative), from Latin vocativus (casus) "(case of) calling," from vocatus, past participle of vocare "to call" (see voice (n.)). The Latin is a translation of Greek kletike ptosis, from kletikos "related to calling," from kletos "called."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper