Definition of abortive in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈbɔːtɪv/


1Failing to produce the intended result: the rebel officers who led the abortive coup were shot
More example sentences
  • Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded the north of the island in the wake of an abortive coup attempt by Greek Cypriot nationalists, aimed at uniting the island with Greece.
  • In the wake of that, at college in Bagdhad, he joined the Baath party and in 1956, as Britain withdrew from Suez, he took part in an abortive coup attempt.
  • We used an earlier, abortive, suicide attempt to show that Sylvia had taken a decision not to commit suicide, for the sake of the children.
2 Medicine (Of a virus infection) failing to produce symptoms.
Example sentences
  • The deletion affected gene yajF with unknown function, but associated with genes involved in phage resistance through abortive infection.
  • Historically, home treatment for paralytic polio and abortive polio with neurological symptoms wasn't sufficient.
  • The infection rate is extremely high, but it is probable that 95% of all infections are either asymptomatic or characterised by an abortive flu-like illness.
2.1 dated (Of an organ or organism) rudimentary; arrested in development: abortive medusae
More example sentences
  • Eight inflorescences carried one or two abortive ovaries that turned yellow, instead of green, and dropped off when touched with a probe.
  • Jaw prehension is common in aquatic frogs, often in combination with abortive tongue protraction, but suction feeding is present only in pipids.
  • Not uncommonly, squamous differentiation and abortive gland formation is noted.
3 rare Causing or resulting in abortion: abortive techniques
More example sentences
  • Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy.
  • The Reichstag, in its turn, passed a law that restricted the national distribution of abortive and contraceptive means and planned a new law regulating cinemas.



Example sentences
  • Romney's father, who was a Republican, too, but governor of Michigan, ran, if disastrously and abortively, for president almost four decades ago.
  • They argue that a new Bill permitting defections at national and provincial level will be introduced soon, which will provide for retrospective protection of MPs and MPLs who abortively crossed the floor.
  • Selective memory sought to erase the traces of the outmoded European-style colonialism that the Americans abortively tried to practice in the archipelago.


Middle English (as a noun denoting a stillborn child or animal): via Old French from Latin abortivus, from aboriri 'miscarry' (see abort).

  • The early use of abortive, from Latin aboriri ‘to miscarry’ from oriri ‘be born’, was for a stillborn child or animal. Abortion is also mid 16th century.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: abort|ive

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