AskDefine | Define ablative

Dictionary Definition

ablative adj
1 relating to the ablative case
2 tending to ablate; i.e. to be removed or vaporized at very high temperature; "ablative material on a rocket cone" n : the case indicating the agent in passive sentences or the instrument or manner or place of the action described by the verb [syn: ablative case]

User Contributed Dictionary



French ablatif, ablative, Latin ablativus from ablatus. See Ablation



  1. Taking away or removing
    • Where the heart is forestalled with misopinion, ablative directions are found needful to unteach error, ere we can learn truth - Bp. Hall
  2. Applied to one of the cases of the noun in Latin and some other languages, such as German, -- the fundamental meaning of the case being removal, separation, or taking away.


taking away
  • Japanese: 奪格の(だっかくの, dakkakuno)
applied to one of the cases of the noun in other language
  • Portuguese: ablativo


  1. The ablative case.


(grammar) the ablative case
  • Bosnian: ablativ
  • Catalan: ablatiu,
  • Croatian: ablativ
  • Dutch: ablatief
  • Finnish: ablatiivi
  • French: ablatif
  • German: ablativ
  • Greek: αφαιρετική
  • Icelandic: sviftifall
  • Spanish: ablativo

Derived terms

  • ablative absolute - a construction in Latin, in which a noun in the ablative case has a participle (either expressed or implied), agreeing with it in gender, number, and case, both words forming a clause by themselves and being unconnected, grammatically, with the rest of the sentence; as, Tarquinio regnante, Pythagoras venit, i. e. "Tarquinius reigning, Pythagoras came"; so, "When Tarquinius was king, Pythagoras came".


Extensive Definition

In linguistics, ablative case (abbreviated ABL) is a name given to cases in various languages whose common characteristic is that they mark motion away from something, though the details in each language may differ. The name "ablative" is derived from the Latin ablatus, the (irregular) past participle of auferre "to carry away".

Indo-European languages


The Latin ablative case (ablativus) has at least fifteen documented uses; although some classicists have stated that there are additional unique uses. Generalizing their function, however, ablatives modify or limit nouns by ideas of where (place), when (time), how (manner), etc. Hence, the case is sometimes also called the adverbial case; this can be quite literal, as phrases in the ablative can be translated as adverbs. E.g. magnā (cum) celeritāte, literally "with great speed", may also be written "very quickly."
Active motion away from a place is only one particular use of the ablative case and is called the ablative of place from which. Nouns, either proper or common, are almost always used in this sense with accompanying prepositions of ab/ā/abs, "from"; ex/ē, "out of"; or dē, "down from". E.g. ex agrīs, "from the country"; ex Graeciā ad Italiam navigāvērunt, "They sailed from Greece to Italy."
A closely related construction is called the ablative of separation. This usage of the ablative implies that some person or thing is separated from another. No active movement from one location to the next occurs; furthermore, ablatives of separation sometimes lack a preposition, particularly with certain verbs like cáreō or līberō. E.g. Cicerō hostēs ab urbe prohibuit, "Cicero kept the enemy away from the city"; Eōs timōre līberāvit, "He freed them from fear."
The Latin ablative may also be used to indicate:
  • the means by which an action was carried out. E.g. oculīs vidēre, "to see with the eyes". This is known as the ablative of means or of instrument, and is equivalent to the instrumental case found in some other languages. Special deponent verbs in Latin sometimes use the ablative of means idiomatically. E.g. Ūtitur stilō literally says "he is benefiting himself by means of a pencil"; however, the phrase is more aptly translated "he is using a pencil."
  • the manner in which an action was carried out. The preposition cum (meaning "with") is used when (i) no adjective describes the noun E.g. cum cūrā, "with care," or (ii) optionally after the adjective(s) and before the noun E.g. magnā (cum) celeritāte, "with great speed." This is known as the ablative of manner.
  • the time when or within which an action occurred. E.g. aestāte, "in summer"; eō tempore, "at that time"; Paucīs hōrīs id faciet, "within a few hours he will do it." This is known as the ablative of time when or within which.
  • the circumstances surrounding an action. E.g. Urbe captā, Aenēas fugit, "With the city having been captured, Aeneas fled." This is known as the ablative absolute.
Of kindred nature to this is the Ablative of Attendant Circumstances "magno cum clamore ciuium ad urbem perueniunt" ("they reach the city to the great clamours of the populace")
  • with whom something was done. Nouns in this construction are always accompanied by the preposition cum. E.g. cum eīs, "with them"; Cum amīcīs vēnērunt, "They came with friends." This is known as the ablative of accompaniment.
  • the whole to which a certain number belongs or is a part. E.g. centum ex virīs, "one hundred of the men"; quīnque ex eīs, "five of them."
  • agent by whom the action of a passive verb is performed. The agent is always preceded by ab/ā/abs. E.g. Caesar ā dīs admonētur, "Caesar is warned by the gods." This is known as the ablative of personal agent. This can, however, be more generalized when the agent is an inanimate object. In this case, the preposition ab/ā/abs is not used. E.g. "rex a militibus interfectus est" "the king was killed by the soldiers" as opposed to "rex armis militum interfectus est" "the king was killed by the weapons of the soldiers." This is known as simply the ablative of agent
Other known uses of the ablative include the ablatives of cause, of comparison, of degree of difference, of description, of place where, and of specification. Important: Not all ablatives can be categorized into the classes mentioned above!
Some Latin prepositions, like pro, take a noun in the ablative. A few prepositions may take either an accusative or an ablative, in which case the accusative indicates motion towards, and the ablative indicates no motion. E.g. in casā, "in the cottage"; in casam, "into the cottage".


The ablative case is also found in Sanskrit where it is the fifth case, and is called 'apaadaana'.


In the Western Armenian language, the ablative case is rendered by the suffix -e (indefinite) or -en (definite).
Mart - man
Marten- from the man
Marte- from (a) man
Doon - house
D'nen - from the house
D'ne- from (a) house
In Eastern Armenian, the suffix -its is used for both definite and indefinite nouns.
Mard- man Mardits- from man
Toon- house T'nits- from house
Both suffixes are derived from Classical Armenian. The Western suffix -e is from the Classical singular and the Eastern suffix -its is from the Classical plural; both have been generalized for singular and plural in the dialects that use them.
In Armenian, the ablative case has several uses. Its principal function is to show motion away from a point in space or time.
KAGHAKEN katsi. -I came FROM THE CITY. (Eastern Armenian; KAGHAKITS gnets)
ASTEGHEN heroo g'abrei. -I used to live far FROM HERE. (Ea. ASTEGHITS heroo ei b'nakoom)
The case also shows the agent when used with the passive voice of the verb.
INE misht g' sirveis. -You were always loved BY ME. (Ea. INDZITS misht eis sirvoom)
AZAD'CHNEREN azadetsank. -We were freed BY THE LIBERATORS. (Ea. AZATOGHNERITS azatfetsink)
The ablative case is also important to comparative statements in colloquial Armenian.
Inch MEGHREN anoosh eh? -"What is sweeter THAN HONEY?" (proverb) (Ea. Inch MEGHRITS e anoosh?)
Mariam EKHPEREN b'zdig eh. -Mary is smaller (younger) THAN HER BROTHER. (Ea. Maro AKHBERITS e bakas)
In this use, the ablative can also be used with infinitives and participles.
Tooz hamdesel e lav DESNALE. -Figs are better to taste THAN TO SEE. (Ea. T'zner hamtesel e laf TESNELITS)
The ablative case is also important to case government with postpositions.
INE var - Below ME (Ea. INDZITS var)
KEZME ver - Above YOU (Ea. KEZITS ver)
ANONTSME verch - After THEM (Ea. N'RANITS verj)
MEZME arach - Before US (Ea. MEZNITS araj)

Uralic languages


In Finnish, the ablative case is the sixth of the locative cases with the meaning "from, off, of", e.g. pöytä — pöydältä "table — off from the table". It is an outer locative case, used just as the adessive and allative cases to denote both being on top of something and "being around the place" (as opposed to the inner locative case, the elative, which means "from out of" or "from the inside of").
The Finnish ablative is also used in time expressions to indicate start times as well as with verbs expressing feelings or emotions.
The Finnish ablative has the ending -lta or -ltä according to the regular rules of vocal harmony.
  • away from a place
Off the roof
Off the table
From the beach
From the land
Off the sea
  • to stop some activity with the verb lähteä
lähteä tupakalta
stop smoking (in the sense of putting out the cigarette one is smoking now; literally 'leave from the tobacco')
lähteä hippasilta
quit the tag game (hippa=tag, olla hippasilla=playing tag)
  • to smell/taste/feel/look/sound like something
haisee pahalta
smells bad
maistuu hyvältä
tastes good
tuntuu kamalalta
feels awful
näyttää tyhmältä
looks stupid
kuulostaa mukavalta
sounds nice

Altaic languages


The ablative in Azeri (çıxışlıq hal) is expressed through the suffixes -dan or -dən. Examples:
Ev - evdən House - from/off the house
Aparmaq - aparmaqdan To carry - from/off carrying


The ablative in Turkish (-den hali) is expressed through the suffixes -den, -dan, -ten, or -tan. Examples:
Ev - evden House - from/off the house
At - attan Horse - from/off the horse
Taşımak - taşımaktan To carry - from/off carrying


ablative in Extremaduran: Ablativu
ablative in Bavarian: Ablativ
ablative in Bulgarian: Аблативен падеж
ablative in Catalan: Ablatiu absolut
ablative in Czech: Ablativ
ablative in Danish: Ablativ
ablative in German: Ablativ
ablative in Spanish: Caso ablativo
ablative in Esperanto: Ablativo
ablative in French: Ablatif
ablative in Galician: Ablativo
ablative in Indonesian: Ablativus
ablative in Italian: Ablativo
ablative in Latin: Ablativus
ablative in Maltese: Ablativ
ablative in Dutch: Ablatief
ablative in Japanese: 奪格
ablative in Norwegian: Ablativ
ablative in Norwegian Nynorsk: Ablativ
ablative in Polish: Ablatyw
ablative in Portuguese: Caso ablativo
ablative in Romanian: Cazul ablativ
ablative in Russian: Аблатив
ablative in Slovak: Ablatív
ablative in Serbian: Аблатив
ablative in Finnish: Ablatiivi
ablative in Swedish: Ablativ
ablative in Venetian: Ablativo
ablative in Chinese: 离格
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