The Meaning of Indefinitely: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever been curious about the definition of indefinitely? This article will provide you with all of the knowledge you need on the word indefinitely, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word indefinitely mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary and Cambridge American English Dictionary, the word indefinitely, pronounced “ɪnˈdɛfɪnɪtlɪ” is an adverb that means for some period of time with no fixed end or stopping point. If someone is doing something indefinitely, this means that there is no set time in which it will be over. For example, if one takes a sabbatical indefinitely, this means that they do not know when they will return to work. If someone decides to leave the country indefinitely, this means that they do not know when they will return to their country of origin. The word indefinitely implies a sense of uncertainty. While the length of time could change someday, as opposed to a word like forever or infinite, the word indefinitely implies an unknown amount of time. Something can be done in an indefinite manner or to an indefinite extent, or for an indefinite time. All of these different scenarios imply an unknown amount of time with no known end. Try to use this word of the day in your conversations! It is always fun to try and use new words.

The word indefinitely also exists in many other languages to describe something that in unceasing or something that is without a determined end. You may notice that some of these words are very similar to the word indefinitely. THis is because they have a common origin in Latin. Many English words are of Latin origin, as are other languages like Spanish, French, and other romance languages. This word lists of translations for the word indefinitely is provided by Word Sense.

  • Greek: αόριστος‎ (masc.), ακαθόριστος‎ (masc.)
  • Polish: nieokreślony‎ (masc.), nieograniczony‎ (masc.)
  • Catalan: indefinit‎
  • Czech: neurčitý‎
  • Tagalog: dituring‎
  • Swedish: obestämd‎
  • Russian: неограни́ченный‎, бесконе́чный‎, безграни́чный‎
  • Danish: ubestemt‎
  • Finnish: epämääräinen‎, ääretön‎, määrittelemätön‎
  • Portuguese: indeterminada, indeterminado
  • Thai: ไม่มีกำหนด
  • Italian: indefinito‎
  • Latin: indēfīnītus‎
  • Spanish: indefinidamente
  • French: indéfiniment

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word indefinitely?

 There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word indefinitely. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another word or phrase. Synonyms are useful to know in order to expand your vocabulary as well as to avoid repeating yourself. THis list of synonyms for the rod indefinitely is provided by Thesaurus.

  • for good
  • unendingly
  • for all time
  • enduringly
  • everlasting
  • on and on
  • everything considered
  • constantly
  • incessantly
  • perpetually
  • unchangingly
  • till Doomsday
  • all the time
  • world without end
  • regularly
  • in perpetuity
  • lastingly
  • durably
  • always
  • everlastingly
  • interminably
  • till death do us part
  • forever
  • endlessly
  • till the end of time
  • unremittingly
  • not ceasing
  • eternally
  • now and forever
  • till the cows come home
  • for always
  • till blue in the face
  • infinitely
  • for life
  • for keeps
  • continually
  • in perpetuum
  • permanently
  • evermore
  • immortally
  • forevermore 

There are also many words that have the opposite meaning to the word indefinitely. These are known as antonyms. Antonyms are also very useful to know if you are looking to expand your knowledge of the English language. This list of antonyms for the word indefinitely is provided by Thesaurus.

  • temp
  • ad hoc
  • make-do
  • changeable
  • pro tem
  • provisional
  • short-lived
  • limited
  • unfixed
  • unstable
  • transient
  • substitute
  • impermanent
  • slapdash
  • evanescent
  • perishable
  • pro tempore
  • fugitive
  • overnight
  • alternate
  • fugacious
  • provisory
  • ephemeral
  • ad interim
  • acting
  • shifting
  • summary
  • brief
  • interim
  • fleeting
  • for the time being
  • supply
  • momentary
  • short
  • transitory
  • makeshift
  • passing
  • mortal
  • stopgap
  • temporary
  • volatile
  • Band-Aid 

What is the origin of the word indefinitely?

According to Etymonline, the adjective indefinite and its adverb form indefinitely have been used since the 1520s to describe something that is imprecise or vague. This comes from the Latin indefinitus, meaning indefinite. This comes from the prefix in, meaning the opposite of or without, and the root definitus, which is the past participle of definire. This root word also gives us words like define and definition. This number was first used in reference to numbers by Pascal. Descartes also distinguished between definite and indefinite as having a limit versus having no limit. We also get the word infinite, which is greater than anything that has a limit. 

How can the word indefinitely be used in a sentence?

The word indefinitely can be used in many different ways to describe situations or other things that are without end. In this example, George is currently being investigated for misconduct by his company. He is called into human resources.

HR Rep: George, take a seat.

George: Am I going to get yelled at?

HR Rep: No, you are going to get suspended, without pay, indefinitely, effective immediately. Take anything you may need from your office and be out by the end of the day.

George: What?! This is ridiculous. I haven’t done anything wrong. 

HR Rep: That very well may end up being true, but you are still under investigation as it stands. While you are under investigation and potentially afterward, the company believes it would be best to suspend you. 

George: No! I’m not going to stand for this!

HR Rep: We can do this the easy way or the hard way. You can either pack your things and go quietly, or I can call security.

Overall, the word indefinitely, pronounced “ɪnˈdef ə nətli” is an adverb that means with no known ceasing or end. This word implies that whatever is occurring will go on for an unlimited amount of time with no end in sight. This is slightly different from infinitely, which implies that something will never end. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.wordsense.eu/indefinite/
  2. https://www.etymonline.com/word/indefinite
  3. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/indefinitely
  4. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/temporary
  5. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/indefinitely
  6. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/indefinite