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Alternative formsEdit

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle French predicat (French prédicat), from post-classical Late Latin praedicātum (thing said of a subject), a noun use of the neuter past participle of praedicō (I proclaim), as Etymology 2, below.



predicate (plural predicates)

  1. (grammar) The part of the sentence (or clause) which states something about the subject or the object of the sentence.
    In "The dog barked very loudly", the subject is "the dog" and the predicate is "barked very loudly".
    • 1988, Andrew Radford, chapter 8, in Transformational grammar: a first course, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, page 438:
      In the light of this observation, consider Number Agreement in a sentence like:
      (120)      They seem to me [S — to be fools/a fool]
      Here, the Predicate Nominal fools agrees with the italicised NP they, in spite of the fact that (as we argued earlier) the two are contained in different Clauses at S-structure. How can this be? Under the NP MOVEMENT analysis of seem structures, sentences like (120) pose no problem; if we suppose that they originates in the — position as the subordinate Clause Subject, then we can say that the Predicate Nominal agrees with the underlying Subject of its Clause. How does they get from its underlying position as subordinate Clause Subject to its superficial position as main Clause Subject? By NP MOVEMENT, of course!
    • 1988, Andrew Radford, chapter 6, in Transformational grammar: a first course, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, page 323:
      Thus, in (121) (a) persuade is clearly a three-place Predicate — that is, a Predicate which takes three Arguments: the first of these Arguments is the Subject NP John, the second is the Primary Object NP Mary, and the third is the Secondary Object S-bar [that she should resign]. By contrast, believe in (121) (b) is clearly a two-place Predicate (i.e. a Predicate which has two Arguments): its first Argument is the Subject NP John, and its second Argument is the Object S-bar [that Mary was innocent].
  2. (logic) A term of a statement, where the statement may be true or false depending on whether the thing referred to by the values of the statement's variables has the property signified by that (predicative) term.
    A nullary predicate is a proposition.
    A predicate is either valid, satisfiable, or unsatisfiable.
  3. (computing) An operator or function that returns either true or false.


predicate (comparative more predicate, superlative most predicate)

  1. (grammar) Of or related to the predicate of a sentence or clause.
  2. Predicated, stated.
  3. (law) Relating to or being any of a series of criminal acts upon which prosecution for racketeering may be predicated.
Derived termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From Latin praedicātus, perfect passive participle of praedicō (publish, declare, proclaim), from prae + dicō (proclaim, dedicate), related to dīcō (say, tell).



predicate (third-person singular simple present predicates, present participle predicating, simple past and past participle predicated)

  1. (transitive) to proclaim, announce or assert publicly
  2. (transitive, logic) to state, assert as an attribute or quality of something
    • 1911, Encyclopedia Britannica, Conceptualism
      This quality becomes real as a mental concept when it is predicated of all the objects possessing it (“quod de pluribus natum est praedicari”).
  3. (transitive) To suppose, assume; to infer.
    • 1859, Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities:
      There was a character about Madame Defarge, from which one might have predicated that she did not often make mistakes against herself in any of the reckonings over which she presided.
    • 1881, Thomas Hardy, A Laodicean:
      Of anyone else it would have been said that she must be finding the afternoon rather dreary in the quaint halls not of her forefathers: but of Miss Power it was unsafe to predicate so surely.
  4. (transitive, originally US) to base (on); to assert on the grounds of
    • 1978, Michel Foucault, The Will to Knowledge, trans. Robert Hurley (Penguin 1998, page 81):
      The law is what constitutes both desire and the lack on which it is predicated.
  5. to make a term (or expression) the predicate of a statement

Further readingEdit






  1. adverbial present passive participle of predicar