I know the verb 'eliminate' is used only as a transitive verb.

However, I have read some articles which use the verb as an intransitive verb, without any objects.

For example,

Your dog should find a time and place to eliminate.

In this sentence, the writer used the meaning of 'eliminate' is to get rid of dung or urine from the dog's body. But based on grammar, 'eliminate' is a transitive verb, and so here, to eliminate is for a adjective role, which modify an antecedent at the rear.

For any transitive verb to modify an antecedent, the antecedent must be the object of the verb. Let's say, "they are our enemies to eliminate." Here, our enemies to eliminate came from 'to eliminate our enemies' because 'eliminate' is a transitive verb. Then from the sentence 'your dog should find a time and place to eliminate.', we can say the meaning a time and place to eliminate came from to eliminate a time and place. If the verb were able to be used as both a transitive and intransitive verb, there would be no problems.

As a time to kill and a time to die are definitely different, in my opinion, 'a time and place to eliminate' is wrong expression. What do you think? Plz, explain it based on English grammar not on any colloquial explanation.

Thanks for all the interests in my question.

  1. you can find that comment very easily through google searching.
  2. yes, in the sentence, the meaning is the same as 'expel'. and as you can see 'expel' is also used only as transitive verb, so it has an objective 'waste'
  3. as I mentioned above, I understand what the meaning is. My question is whether it is correct or not based on English grammar.
  4. for colloquial usage, we can sometimes remove some words from correct sentences. but, we can not use ellipsis at will if there may be misunderstandings especially based on grammar and it comes to a grammar question. 'a place to eliminate' can be understood as 'a place to get rid of' not as 'a place to make one's excreta be expelled'
  • 1
    Hi, can you link to any of those articles? "Your dog should find a time and place to eliminate" could be used as jargon, with its meaning being clear from context, but it doesn't sound 'right' to me.
    – Joachim
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 9:14
  • 4
    This definition is in Merriam-Webster: "to expel waste from the living body". It's not in some other dictionaries though.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 9:36
  • @StuartF: Even the full OED doesn't list any "intransitive" usages, so I wouldn't set much store by that M-W entry. I notice they don't give an actual usage citation - or even just an example. And the actual definition just repeats the one for the transitive usage, with the "default" object now implicit rather than explicit. Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 11:20
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    @FumbleFingers eliminate in the sense of "to empty the bowels" had currency in the US during the 20th century. A physician would ask the patient during a physical if they had any difficulty eliminating. It is not entirely obsolete, but when the jingles on TV commercials here sing of "pooping", the word "elimination" in that sense is pretty much on the way out. Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 13:24
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    @TimR - when I was a kid in the UK, around 1961 there was a popular TV comedian called Arthur Haynes. In one sketch he was a patient in a hospital bed. The doctor comes on his rounds, examines Hayne's abdomen, and says 'Have you moved your bowels?' Haynes says 'No', and the doctor says 'Well, somebody has!' Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 19:06

1 Answer 1


Though not all reputable dictionaries list "eliminate" as intransitive, it certainly does have an intransitive meaning, defined here in Merriam-Webster:

intransitive verb
: to expel waste from the living body

In other words, to poop and/or pee.

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