- The word "abortive" has a number of meanings including prematurely born; fruitless or unsuccessful; imperfectly formed or developed; tending to cut short. In everyday language, the sense of "abortive" to mean prematurely born, as "an abortive child," is largely obsolete today. The main meaning of "abortive" in ordinary English is fruitless or unsuccessful, as an "abortive enterprise" or an "abortive effort." In biology, "abortive" means imperfectly formed or developed or rudimentary as, an "abortive organ." In medicine, "abortive" has two meanings: one, causing abortion, as an "abortive medicine," is rarely used nowadays; the other meaning, that of tending to cut short is quite commonly used in medicine, as in the "abortive treatment of typhoid fever" or "abortive polio": polio cut short.
* * *1. Not reaching completion; e.g., said of an attack of a disease subsiding before it has fully developed or completed its course. 2. SYN: rudimentary. 3. SYN: abortifacient (1). [L. abortivus]
* * *abor·tive ə-'bȯrt-iv adj1) imperfectly formed or developed: RUDIMENTARY2 a) ABORTIFACIENTb) cutting short <\abortive treatment of pneumonia>c) failing to develop completely or typically <an \abortive case of poliomyelitis>
* * *abor·tive (ə-borґtiv) [L. abortivus] 1. incompletely developed. 2. abortifacient (def. 1). 3. cutting short the course of a disease.
Medical dictionary. 2011.