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The infinite, in my understanding, means huge/countless. So in what sense can we call a verb huge/countless?

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Good question. I think this is to do with having a mathematical predisposition! –  Noldorin Feb 4 '11 at 18:46
I'm pretty sure you mean to say that infinite is countless. Finite means countable. –  JSBձոգչ Feb 4 '11 at 19:04
You may want to be careful about saying "finite" means "countable", since it depends on what exactly you mean by "countable" (and in particular, in the mathematical usage of the term, some infinite things are called countable). A collection is finite if it can be counted using some particular natural number. –  Henry Feb 4 '11 at 19:41

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

According to Etymonline, the derivation is:


"simple, uninflected form of a verb," 1510s, from L.L. infinitivus "unlimited, indefinite," from L. infinitus (see infinite). "Indefinite" because not having definite person or number.

So it is used more of the sense of indefinite. It doesn't mean something that approaches the infinite in scope, at least not in the mathematical sense.

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I totally agree. (In)finite is really a synonym for (in)definite here. –  Noldorin Feb 4 '11 at 18:36
Also, I totally love etymonline.com! –  Noldorin Feb 4 '11 at 18:36

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