Definition of commutative in English:


Line breaks: com¦mu|ta¦tive
Pronunciation: /kəˈmjuːtətɪv
, ˈkɒmjʊˌtətɪv


  • 1 Mathematics Involving the condition that a group of quantities connected by operators gives the same result whatever the order of the quantities involved, e.g. a × b = b × a.
    More example sentences
    • An operation is commutative if you can change the order of the numbers involved without changing the result.
    • In the 1840s, the Irish mathematician William Hamilton found that multiplication was not commutative in all number systems.
    • So, the addition and multiplication we are used to using are commutative.
  • 2 rare Relating to or involving substitution or exchange.
    More example sentences
    • The second difficulty was more damaging and, to a degree, commutative with the first.
    • Of course, the relationship between painting and philosophy is not entirely commutative.


mid 16th century (in the sense 'relating to transactions between people'): from French commutatif, -ive or medieval Latin commutativus, from commutat- 'exchanged', from the verb commutare (see commute).

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