First attested in 1382, with the meaning "causing stillbirth or miscarriage". From Middle English, from Old French abortif, from Latin abortīvus (“causing abortion”), from aborior (“miscarry, disappear”), from ab (“amiss”) + orīor (“appear, be born, arise”).
- (obsolete) Produced by abortion; born prematurely. [Attested from around (1350 to 1470) until the mid 18th century.]
an abortive child
- Coming to naught; failing in its effect; miscarrying; fruitless; unsuccessful. [First attested in the late 16th century.]
an abortive attempt
1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost, 1799 edition:
- […] and with utter loss of being / Threatens him, plung'd in that abortive gulf.
- (biology) Imperfectly formed or developed; rudimentary; sterile. [First attested in the mid 18th century.]
- (medicine, rare, attributive) Causing abortion; abortifacient
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Parr to this entry?)
- (medicine) Cutting short; acting to halt or slow the progress (of a disease).
abortive treatment of typhoid fever
- Made from the skin of a still-born animal.
abortive (plural abortives)
- (obsolete) That which is born or brought forth prematurely; an abortion. [Attested from around (1150 to 1350) until the mid 18th century.]
1592, Shakespeare, Richard III, I-iii:
- Thou elvish-mark'd, abortive, rooting hog!
- (obsolete) A fruitless effort or issue. [Attested from the early 17th century until the early 18th century.]
- (obsolete) A medicine to which is attributed the property of causing abortion, abortifacient.
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.
- (transitive, obsolete) To cause an abortion; to render without fruit. [Attested only in the 17th century.]
- Lesley Brown (editor), The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 5th edition (Oxford University Press, 2003 , ISBN 978-0198605751), page 7
- ^ Elliott K. Dobbie, C. William Dunmore, Robert K. Barnhart, et al. (editors), Chambers Dictionary of Etymology (Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, 2004 , ISBN 0550142304), page 4