adjective

[aj-ik-tiv]
noun
1.
Grammar. any member of a class of words that modify nouns and pronouns, primarily by describing a particular quality of the word they are modifying, as wise in a wise grandmother, or perfect in a perfect score, or handsome in He is extremely handsome. Other terms, as numbers (one cup; twelve months ), certain demonstrative pronouns (this magazine; those questions ), and terms that impose limits (each person; no mercy ) can also function adjectivally, as can some nouns that are found chiefly in fixed phrases where they immediately precede the noun they modify, as bottle in bottle cap and bus in bus station. modifier, qualifier, identifier, describer, describing word.
adjective
2.
pertaining to or functioning as an adjective; adjectival: the adjective use of a noun.
3.
Law. concerning methods of enforcement of legal rights, as pleading and practice (opposed to substantive ).
4.
(of dye colors) requiring a mordant or the like to render them permanent (opposed to substantive ).
5.
Archaic. not able to stand alone; dependent: Women were seen by some (by some men, that is) as adjective creatures, needing to be cared for and protected from the vicissitudes of life.

Origin:
1350–1400; Middle English < Late Latin adjectīvum, neuter of adjectīvus, equivalent to adject(us) attached, added, past participle of ad(j)icere (ad- ad- + -jec-, combining form of jac- throw + -tus past participle suffix) + -īvus -ive

adjectival, adjective
adjectivally, adjectively, adverb
nonadjectively, adverb
preadjective, adjective


How do we spot an adjective? For one thing, adjectives tell us about the nouns they qualify by answering questions like “what kind,” “which one,” and “how many”: a serious student; the purple flower; three kisses. But in English there are adjectives and there are adjectives. Those in the second group are more adjectival than the others, in that the qualifications they express can themselves be qualified. The word more is our clue; true adjectives can compare one entity to another. For adjectives with two or more syllables, the comparative and superlative are formed with more and most (more captivating; the most enthralling). Monosyllables, and some disyllables that happen to end in -y, change form, with occasional accommodations in spelling, by adding -er and -est: smart, smarter, smartest; happy, happier, happiest. There are, of course, irregular members of this group; despite what your average three-year-old says, things go from good to better and best, not to gooder and goodest. But there is a caution; some adjectives have absolute meanings that can make them seem absurd if used comparatively. If a plant is dead, for example, another plant cannot be more dead.
In addition, many true adjectives are gradable. That is, they can be upgraded (very pretty), downgraded (somewhat disorganized), or intensified (really tired). Usually, those that should not be compared, as correct, impossible, and mortal, are also not gradable. A vote, for example, cannot be very unanimous, too unanimous, or not unanimous enough; it is either unanimous or not. And only in The Wizard of Oz is the Wicked Witch “not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead.” That is not to say that there are no exceptions, as can be seen at the expanded usage note for the absolute adjective unique.
Pronouns, as your, this, and each, can also function as adjectives. But it is the noun as modifier, like bottle and bus in bottle cap and bus station, that gives headaches to dictionary compilers. Faced with evidence, they must ask themselves if occasional use as a modifier makes a particular noun worthy of full adjective status. Bottle and bus certainly do not pass comparison or gradation tests; my cap isn’t more bottle than yours, nor is it very bottle. These nouns are not listed as adjectives in this dictionary. Yet similar nouns, like coffee, kitchen, and summer, are. The number of items they can modify, the number of adjectival senses they have, and the degree to which such senses differ from their noun senses all play a part in the decision. That decision, however is never final. Meanings expand and evolve. Language changes as we speak.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To adjectives
Collins
World English Dictionary
adjective (ˈædʒɪktɪv)
 
n
1.  a.  a word imputing a characteristic to a noun or pronoun
 b.  adj (as modifier): an adjective phrase
 
adj
2.  additional or dependent
3.  Compare substantive (of law) relating to court practice and procedure, as opposed to the principles of law dealt with by the courts
 
[C14: from Late Latin adjectīvus attributive, from adjicere to throw to, add, from ad- to + jacere to throw; in grammatical sense, from the Latin phrase nōmen adjectīvum attributive noun]
 
adjectival
 
adj

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

adjective
early 15c., from O.Fr. adjectif (14c.), from L. adjectivum "that is added to (the noun)," neut. of adjectivus "added," from pp. of adicere "to throw or place (a thing) near," from ad- "to" + comb. form of jacere "to throw" (see jet (v.)). In 19c. Britain, often a euphemism for bloody.
"They ... slept until it was cool enough to go out with their 'Towny,' whose vocabulary contained less than six hundred words, and the Adjective." [Kipling, "Soldiers Three," 1888]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

adjective definition


A part of speech that describes a noun or pronoun. Adjectives are usually placed just before the words they qualify: shy child, blue notebook, rotten apple, four horses, another table.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
It suggested the advantage of economy in the use of adjectives.
Not only is there no need to apply superlative adjectives to yourself, but
  doing so probably doesn't help your case.
Ask students to use adjectives to describe the pictures, and write the words on
  the board or on chart paper.
But please, continue to believe that labeling other people with nasty
  adjectives is a rational argument.
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