AskDefine | Define gerundive

User Contributed Dictionary



  • a RP /dʒəˈrʌndɪv/


  1. In the context of "in Latin|_|grammar": a verbal adjective that describes obligation or necessity
  2. In the context of "less commonly|in English|_|grammar": a verbal adjective ending in -ing

Usage notes

English grammar does not have an exact equivalent to the Latin gerundive. English verbal adjectives ending in -ing are similar, but the Latin gerundive implies a sense of necessity that is lacking from the English construct. For example, the word “agenda” (i.e. “those things that ought to be done,” not just “things to be done”) conveys the sense of necessity from the Latin gerundive.

Related terms


Latin verbal adjective that describes obligation or necessity
verbal adjective


Extensive Definition

distinguish gerund
In linguistics, a gerundive is a particular verb form. The term is applied very differently to different languages; depending on the language, gerundives may be verbal adjectives, verbal adverbs, or finite verbs. Not every language has gerundives; for example, English does not.

In Latin

In Latin, the gerundive is a verbal adjective used to indicate that a noun needs or deserves to be the object of an action. It is sometimes known as a future passive participle. For example, if English had a Latin-style gerundive, and feed-ando were the gerundive form of the verb to feed, then "The cat is feed-ando" would mean "The cat should be fed." English sometimes uses a passive infinitive to this effect: "The cat is to be fed."
Some examples of the Latin gerundive include:
  • Cato the Elder, a Roman senator, frequently ended his speeches with the statement, "Ceterum censeo Carthaginem delendam esse" (lit. "I also think the "will be destroyed" Carthage is," i.e. "I also think Carthage must be destroyed").
  • In the Harry Potter series of novels, the motto of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is "Draco dormiens numquam titillandus" (lit. "[A] dragon sleeping [is] never to be tickled," i.e. "Never tickle a sleeping dragon").
  • The phrase "quod erat demonstrandum" ("which was to be demonstrated"), whose abbreviated form Q.E.D. is often used after the final conclusion of a proof.
  • The name Amanda is a feminization of amandus, the gerundive of amare, to love. Thus, it means roughly, "worthy of being loved", "worthy of love", or simply "loveable". Similarly with the name Miranda; mirare means to admire, so the name means roughly "worthy of admiration" or "admirable".
  • A number of English words come directly from Latin gerundives; for example, addendum comes from the gerundive of addere, to add; referendum comes from the gerundive of referre, to bring back; and agenda comes from a plural of agendum, the gerundive of agere, to do. Additionally, some words come from Latin gerundives by an indirect route; propaganda, for example, comes from a New Latin phrase containing a feminine form of propagandum, the gerundive of propagare, to propagate.

In French

The French gerundive is a verbal adverb used to indicate that one action caused or happened at the same time as another. For example the French adage C'est en forgeant qu'on devient forgeron means It is by blacksmithing that one becomes a blacksmith.

In Tigrinya

The Tigrinya gerundive is a finite verb form, not a verbal adjective or adverb. Generally speaking, it denotes completed action which is still relevant. A verb in the gerundive can be used alone, or serially with another gerundive verb; in the latter case it may sometimes be translated with an adverbial clause: bitri hidju kheydu (literally, a-stick he-took-hold-of he-began-walking) means while holding a stick, he is walking, i.e. he is carrying a stick. See Tigrinya verbs.

External links

The following pages provide definitions or glosses of the term gerundive:
gerundive in German: Gerundivum
gerundive in Latin: Gerundivum
gerundive in Dutch: Gerundivum
gerundive in Russian: Герундив
gerundive in Swedish: Gerundivum
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