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distinctive definition


This page has 10 definitions of distinctive in English and French. Distinctive is an adjective and noun. Examples of how to use distinctive in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

English distinctive definition


From Latin distinctus, perfect passive participle of distinguere (to push apart, to divide), + -ive (forming adjectives signifying relation or tendency to). Cognate with French distinctif and Medieval Latin distinctivus.



distinctive (comparative more distinctive, superlative most distinctive)

  1. Distinguishing, used to or enabling the distinguishing of some thing.
    • 1583, Philip Stubbes, The Anatomie of Abuses, Folio V:
      Our Apparell was giuen vs as a signe distinctiue to discern betwixt sex and sex.
    a product in distinctive packaging
  2. (rare) Discriminating, discerning, having the ability to distinguish between things.
  3. Characteristic, typical.
    • 1856, John Ruskin, Modern Painters, volume III, page 293:
      Wordsworth's distinctive work was a war with pomp and pretence, and a display of the majesty of simple feelings and humble hearts.
    his distinctive bass voice
  4. (rare) Distinguished, being distinct in character or position.
    • 1867, Samuel Smiles, The Huguenots, Ch. xvii, p. 432:
      The refugees... at length ceased to exist as a distinctive body among the people.
  5. (Hebrew grammar, of accents) Used to separate clauses in place of stops.
    • 1874, Andrew Bruce Davidson, Introductory Hebrew Grammar, p. 27:
      These are the main distinctive accents, and by stopping at them... the reader will do justice to the sense.
  6. (linguistics, of sounds) Distinguishing a particular sense of word.
    • 1927, L. Bloomfield & al., Language, No. 3, p. 129:
      Normally we symbolize only phonemes (distinctive features) so far as we can determine them.

Derived terms

Related terms



distinctive (plural distinctives)

  1. A distinctive thing: a quality or property permitting distinguishing; a characteristic.
    • 1816, Maurice Keatinge, Travels through France and Spain to Morocco, Vol. I, p. 189:
      ...the red umbrella, the distinctive of royalty here...
  2. (Hebrew grammar) A distinctive accent.
    • 1874, Andrew Bruce Davidson, Introductory Hebrew Grammar, p. 27:
      A distinctive of less power than Zakeph is Ṭiphḥâ.
  3. (theology) A distinctive belief, tenet, or dogma of a denomination or sect.
    • 1979, Theron F. Schlabach, "Gospel versus Gospel" in Studies in Anabaptist and Mennonite History, p. 154:
      Mennonites could go forth somewhat detached from the chauvinism of Western culture—but not so from the Mennonite distinctives.


French distinctive definition




  1. feminine singular of distinctif