Meaning of aorist in English:


Pronunciation /ˈeɪərɪst/ /ˈɛːrɪst/


  • Relating to or denoting a past tense of a verb (especially in Greek), which does not contain any reference to duration or completion of the action.

    ‘Two of the more troublesome phenomena are verbs with an active present and future middle; and ‘passive deponents,’ i.e., ‘deponent’ verbs whose aorists are passive in form, not middle.’
    • ‘However, in the indicative mood, the aorist usually indicates past time.’
    • ‘The minority of these future middle verbs form the aorist normally.’
    • ‘According to Robertson, Homeric Greek has many more instances of the middle than the passive because neither the future nor the aorist had yet developed distinct forms to any great extent.’
    • ‘Further, with all forms except the aorist and future, we are not able to tell whether a verb is middle or passive.’


  • The aorist tense.

    ‘When the forgiveness of sins is considered, the use of the aorist tense in the Lord's Prayer makes clear that only a final (one-time only) forgiveness is sought when the Lord comes.’
    • ‘The previous section points out that Koine ‘preferred the aorist passive in the case of deponents (where a real passive meaning is at best a possibility)’.’
    • ‘It is quite intriguing to notice that the majority of these active-present, future-middle verbs have a stem change in the aorist (a second aorist form).’
    • ‘It is only in the aorist that separate passive forms had become fully established (and to a lesser extent the future passive which is based on the aorist passive).’
    • ‘In this case, the understood verb is, as noted above, an aorist active indicative denoting an action (or beginning of an action) in past time.’


Late 16th century from Greek aoristos ‘indefinite’, from a- ‘not’ + horizein ‘define, limit’.