abortive, aborted
The central meaning of abortive since the time of Shakespeare has been ‘coming to nought, fruitless, useless, unsuccessful’. It can be applied to attempts, efforts, missions, coups, and rebellions, negotations, proposals, etc., and to any action that proves to be unsuccessful, even the most trivial

• (An abortive attempt to do the Times crossword —A. N. Wilson, 1982).

Aborted is not, despite the protestations of the American writer William Safire, a better alternative, since it denotes actual failure whereas abortive can be used of failure that is merely imminent or potential.

Modern English usage. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Abortive — A*bor tive, a. [L. abortivus, fr. aboriri. See {Abort}, v.] 1. Produced by abortion; born prematurely; as, an abortive child. [R.] [1913 Webster] 2. Made from the skin of a still born animal; as, abortive vellum. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] 3.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Abortive — may refer to: Abortion of pregnancy Abortive infection, a viral infection that infects a cell without reproducing into more infectious viruses. Abortive flower, a flower with a stamen but no pistil. This disambiguation page lists articles… …   Wikipedia

  • abortive — (adj.) late 14c., born prematurely or dead, from L. abortivus pertaining to miscarriage; causing abortion, from abort , pp. stem of aboriri disappear, miscarry, from ab amiss (see AB (Cf. ab )) + oriri appear, be born, arise (see ORCHESTRA (Cf …   Etymology dictionary

  • Abortive — A*bor tive, n. 1. That which is born or brought forth prematurely; an abortion. [Obs.] Shak. [1913 Webster] 2. A fruitless effort or issue. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] 3. A medicine to which is attributed the property of causing abortion; also called… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • abortive — index futile, imperfect, ineffective, ineffectual, otiose, unavailing, unproductive Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton …   Law dictionary

  • abortive — fruitless, vain, *futile, bootless Analogous words: *immature, unmatured, unripe: unformed (see FORMLESS): ineffectual, *ineffective, inefficacious: unfortunate, unlucky (see affirmative adjectives at LUCKY) Antonyms: consummated Contrasted words …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • abortive — [adj] failing to achieve a goal failed, failing, fruitless, futile, ineffective, ineffectual, miscarried, unavailing, unproductive, unsuccessful, useless, vain, worthless; concept 528 Ant. complete, consummated, effectual, efficient, fruitful,… …   New thesaurus

  • abortive — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ failing to produce the intended result; unsuccessful. DERIVATIVES abortively adverb …   English terms dictionary

  • abortive — [ə bôrt′iv] adj. [ME abortif < L abortivus: see ABORT] 1. coming to nothing; unsuccessful; fruitless 2. Biol. arrested in development; rudimentary 3. Med. a) causing abortion b) halting a disease process …   English World dictionary

  • Abortive — The word abortive has a number of meanings including prematurely born; fruitless or unsuccessful; imperfectly formed or developed; tending to cut short. In everyday language, the sense of abortive to mean prematurely born, as an abortive child,… …   Medical dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.