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

  • n. A form of a verb that in some languages, such as English, can function independently as an adjective, as the past participle baked in We had some baked beans, and is used with an auxiliary verb to indicate tense, aspect, or voice, as the past participle baked in the passive sentence The beans were baked too long.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A form of a verb that may function as an adjective or noun. English has two types of participles: the present participle and the past participle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A part of speech partaking of the nature of both verb and adjective; a form of a verb, or verbal adjective, modifying a noun, but taking the adjuncts of the verb from which it is derived. In the sentences: a letter is written; being asleep he did not hear; exhausted by toil he will sleep soundly, -- written, being, and exhaustedare participles.
  • n. Anything that partakes of the nature of different things.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Whatever partakes of the nature of two or more other things; something that is part one thing and part another; a mongrel.
  • n. In gram., a verbal adjective that participates or shares in the construction of the verb to which it belongs, and so has in a certain manner and degree a place in the verbal system; a word having the value of an adjective as part of speech, but so regularly made from a verb, and associated with it in meaning and construction, as to seem to belong to the verb.

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

  • n. a non-finite form of the verb; in English it is used adjectivally and to form compound tenses


Middle English, from Old French, variant of participe, from Latin participium (translation of Greek metokhē, sharing, partaking, participle), from particeps, particip-, partaker; see participate.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French participle (1388), ‘a noun-adjective’, variant of participe, from Latin participium. (Wiktionary)



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  • verb as adjective (cf. gerund, attributive)

    January 23, 2011

  • Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.

    January 25, 2007