A Dictionary of the English Language
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Abortive (adjective)

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 59

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 59

Abo'rtive. adj. [abortivus, Lat.]

  1. That which is brought forth before the due time of birth.

    If ever he have child, abortive be it,
    Prodigious, and untimely brought to light.
    Shakesp. Rich. III.

    All th' unaccomplish'd works of nature's hand,
    Abortive, monstrous, or unkindly mix'd,
    Dissolv'd on earth, fleet hither.
    Paradise Lost, b. iii. l. 456.

  2. Figuratively, that which fails for want of time.

    This is the true cause, why so many politic conceptions, so elaborately formed and wrought, and grown at length ripe for delivery, do yet, in the issue, miscarry and prove abortive. South's Sermons.

              False hopes
    He cherishes, nor will his fruit expect
    Th' autumnal season, but, in summer's pride
    When other orchards smile, abortive fail.
    Phillips.

    How often hast thou waited at my cup,
    Fed from my trencher, kneel'd down at the board,
    When I have feasted with queen Margaret?
    Remember it, and let in make thee crest-faln;
    Ay, and allay this thy abortive pride.
    Shakesp. Hen. VI. p. ii.

  3. That which brings forth nothing.

    These pass'd, if any pass, the void profound,
    Of unessential night receives him next,
    Wide-gaping! and with utter loss of being
    Threatens him, plung'd in that abortive gulf.
    Milton's Paradise Lost, b. ii. l. 451.

Sources: Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 2 (49) · Milton, John (449) · Philips, John (42) · Shakespeare's Richard III (63) · South, Robert (158)

Attributes: Adjective (426) · Latin (690)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Abortive (adjective)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: January 26, 2014. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=711.


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