• (America) IPA: /əˈbɔɹ.tɪv/
  • (RP) IPA: /əˈbɔː.tɪv/


  1. (obsolete) Produced by abortion; born prematurely and therefore unnatural. [Attested from around (1350 to 1470) until the mid 18th century.]
    • 1592, William Shakespeare, Richard III, Act I, sc. 3:
      Thou elvish-marked, abortive, rooting hog!
    an abortive child
  2. Coming to nothing; failing in its effect; miscarrying; fruitless; unsuccessful. [First attested in the late 16th century.]
    an abortive attempt
    • 1851, Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of Seven Gables, Chapter 7:
      He made a salutation, or, to speak nearer the truth, an ill-defined, abortive attempt at curtsy.
  3. (biology) Imperfectly formed or developed; rudimentary; sterile. [First attested in the mid 18th century.]
    an abortive organ
    an abortive stamen
    an abortive ovule
  4. (pharmaceutical effect, medicine, rare, attributive) Causing abortion; abortifacient
    abortive medicines
  5. (medicine) Cutting short; acting to halt or slow the progress (of a disease).
    abortive treatment of typhoid fever
  6. Made from the skin of a still-born animal.
    abortive vellum
Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Noun

abortive (plural abortives)

  1. (obsolete) That which is born or brought forth prematurely; an abortion. [Attested from around (1150 to 1350) until the mid 18th century.]
  2. (obsolete) A fruitless effort or issue. [Attested from the early 17th century until the early 18th century.]
  3. (obsolete) A medicine to which is attributed the property of causing abortion, abortifacient.
Translations Translations Translations Verb

abortive (abortives, present participle abortiving; past and past participle abortived)

  1. (transitive, obsolete) To cause an abortion; to render without fruit. [Attested only in the 17th century.]

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