from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Expressing a wish or choice.
  • adj. Grammar Of, relating to, or being a mood of verbs in some languages, such as Greek, used to express a wish.
  • adj. Grammar Designating a statement using a verb in the subjunctive mood to indicate a wish or desire, as in Had I the means, I would do it.
  • n. Grammar The optative mood.
  • n. Grammar A verb or an expression in the optative mood.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. expressing a wish or a choice.
  • adj. related or pertaining to the optative mood.
  • n. a mood of verbs found in some languages (e.g. Old Prussian, Ancient Greek), used to express a wish. English has no inflexional optative mood, but it has modal verbs like "might" and "may" that express possibility.
  • n. a verb or expression in the optative mood.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Expressing desire or wish.
  • n. Something to be desired.
  • n. The optative mood; also, a verb in the optative mood.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Expressing or expressive of desire or wish.
  • Expressing wish or desire by a distinct grammatical form; pertaining to or constituting the mode named from this use: as, the optative mode; optative constructions.
  • n. Something to be desired.
  • n. In grammar, the optative mode of a verb. Abbreviated opt.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. relating to a mood of verbs in some languages
  • n. a mood (as in Greek or Sanskrit) that expresses a wish or hope; expressed in English by modal verbs
  • adj. indicating an option or wish


Middle English optatif, from Old French, from Late Latin optātīvus, from Latin optātus, past participle of optāre, to wish.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English optatif, from Old French, from Late Latin optātīvus, from Latin optātus (past participle of optāre, "to wish") (Wiktionary)


  • Greek has a particular mood called the optative mood.

    Archive 2008-12-14

  • Likewise *-i is absent in all other irrealis moods ie. the optative, and likely too, the subjunctive.

    The PIE *to-participle in my subjective-objective model

  • So presumably if *h₁i-yéh₁-n̥t 'they should go' is the optative of an objective verb like *h₁y-énti 'they go', then theoretically *ḱéi-ih₁-th₂e 'you should lie down' rather than later *ḱéi-ih₁-s would have originally been the optative of *ḱéi-th₂or 'you lie down'.

    Interesting quirks of a PIE subjective-objective model

  • However, when developing his general theory of speech acts, Austin abandoned the constative/performative distinction, the reason being that it is not so clear in what sense something is done e.g. by means of an optative utterance, expressing a wish, whereas nothing is done by means of an assertoric one.


  • First of all, the 1ps subjunctive is typically understood to simply be *(-o)-oh₂ (although Jasanoff convincingly argues for a purely "athematic"1 *-oh₂ in the earliest stage of PIE, contrasting with present indicative *-mi) and the 1ps optative is normally *-yeh₁m.

    Lehmann's dismissal of PIE *swe

  • Thus the importance to it of the subjunctive or optative mood.

    Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy

  • Imperative (prejective), conjunctive or optative (subjective), preterite or perfect (trajective), neutral indicative (objective) are grammatical necessities arising out of times and spaces.

    Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy

  • Menger, Karl, 1939, "A logic of the doubtful: On optative and imperative logic," in Reports of a Mathematical Colloquium,

    Mally's Deontic Logic

  • The language of vainglory, of indignation, pity and revengefulness, optative: but of the desire to know, there is a peculiar expression called interrogative; as, What is it, when shall it, how is it done, and why so?


  • Why on earth would endings used in present-futures be associated with the semantics of a subjunctive yet absent in the optative if both the subjunctive and optative convey future reference through the lense of potentiality and desire?

    The headache of the Indo-European subjunctive


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