Definitions

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

  • n. A form of a verb in some languages, such as Classical Greek, that expresses action without indicating its completion or continuation.
  • n. A form of a verb in some languages, such as Classical Greek or Sanskrit, that in the indicative mood expresses past action.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A verb in the aorist past, that is, in the past tense and the aorist aspect (the event described by the verb viewed as a completed whole). Also called the perfective past. The nearest equivalent in English is the simple past. The term aorist is used particularly often for verbs in Ancient and Modern Greek.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to a verb in the aorist aspect.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A tense in the Greek language, which expresses an action as completed in past time, but leaves it, in other respects, wholly indeterminate.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In grammar, a tense of the Greek verb expressing action (in the indicative, past action) without further limitation or implication; hence, also, a tense of like form or like signification in other languages, as the Sanskrit.
  • Indefinite with respect to time.
  • Pertaining or similar to the aorist.

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

  • n. a verb tense in some languages (classical Greek and Sanskrit) expressing action (especially past action) without indicating its completion or continuation

Etymologies

From Greek aoristos, indefinite, aorist tense : a-, not; see a-1 + horistos, definable (from horizein, to define; see horizon).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek ἀόριστος (aoristos, "not done, not completed"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • It's in what's called the aorist tense, which is a technical way of saying that Jesus 'anger is a temporary feeling.

    finitum non capax infiniti

  • While the 3sg hi-ending appears to come from the 'aorist', I am puzzled why you say this form has a *ē in the root.

    Looking for a simple origin to Hittite's hi-class preterite

  • IEists for example volley terms about like "aorist" (aspectual or tensal?) and "markedness" (phonetic or inflectional?) within a variety of sometimes contradictory contexts and it's important to recognize the shades of subtlety.

    Archive 2007-05-01

  • In aspect, verbs can be simple ( "aorist") ( "Brutus stabbed Caesar"), progressive ( "Brutus was stabbing Caesar"), or perfect ( "Brutus has stabbed Caesar").

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol X No 3

  • " I should more aptly compare the non-continuous form *bʰḗr-m̥ 'I carry/carried' to the sigmatic "aorist" since they both end up being employed for past tense in later PIE dialects unlike the continuous presentive.

    Looking for a simple origin to Hittite's hi-class preterite

  • It suggests a world in which my being able to rattle off the aorist participles of λυω entitles me to a seat next to Brad DeLong.

    Matthew Yglesias » Wonks and Teachers

  • Two: The traditional "present-aorist-perfect" verb model which is notorious for being an inadequate model representative only of a post-IE stage can be reworked into an earlier two-dimensional system of subjective/objective versus progressive/non-progressive to now explain why Anatolian & Tocharian verbs behave so differently.

    New pdf on Indo-European verbs

  • All this being said, we then understand why the perfective action could not possibly have been originally marked by *-i as proven by non-Anatolian dialects if its function were originally to express this aspect, due to the obvious semantic contradictions that would ensue, and we also see why the sigmatic aorist couldn't have ever applied to all verbs, such as punctives, likewise to avoid simple contradiction.

    The active-stative mess

  • Finally the sigmatic aorist is no longer treated as a formalized conjugation distinct from the non-continuous.

    The active-stative mess

  • Jasanoff's theories, the durative-aorist-perfect model, active-stative, and subjective-objective into a single coherent model that explains everything much clearer than what I'm finding in journals and books.

    New thought: A 2D matrix of eventive/non-eventive and subjective/objective

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Comments

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  • "But W.'s studies of ancient Greek are not progressing well, he says. It's the aorist, it defeats him every time. W.'s bumping his head against the ceiling of his intelligence, he says. I often have that feeling, I tell him. —'No, you're just lazy', W. says."
    Spurious by Lars Iyer, p 34

    April 15, 2011

  • yeah, but does he know his Finnish locative cases?

    February 21, 2008

  • "The young gentlemen had been introduced to the first aorist, the ablative absolute, and the elements of spherical trigonometry; these they pursued with little enthusiasm..."
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Far Side of the World, 195–196

    February 21, 2008