mid-15c., from Latin dativus "pertaining to giving," from datus "given" (from PIE root *do- "to give"); in grammatical use from Greek dotike (ptosis) "dative (case)," from dotikos "of giving nature," from dotos "given," from PIE root *do- "to give," from the same PIE root as the Latin word. In law, "that may be disposed of at pleasure," from 1530s. Typically the case of the indirect object, but sometimes also denoting "motion toward." In old Germanic languages, the "fourth case," catch-all for Indo-European dative, ablative, locative, and other cases.
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