Restoration satirist Jonathan Swift, who lived in an age fascinated by the discoveries of the microscope, is to thank for a favorite example of the phrase. In On Poetry: A Rhapsody, he writes:
So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite 'em;
And so proceed ad infinitum.
Ad in`fi*ni"tum (#). [L., to infinity.]
Without limit; endlessly.
© Webster 1913.
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