Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective as·ser·tive \ə-ˈsər-tiv, a-\

Simple Definition of assertive

  • : confident in behavior or style

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of assertive

  1. 1 :  disposed to or characterized by bold or confident statements and behavior <an assertive leader>

  2. 2 :  having a strong or distinctive flavor or aroma <assertive wines>

assertively adverb
assertiveness noun

Examples of assertive in a sentence

  1. When my mother brought my baby sister home on the train from the Chicago adoption agency, she had hired a woman from the South named Arizona, much younger than Hope, vigorous, boisterous, taller, darker, and less acclimated to the behavior expected of servants in an upscale Wasp suburb up North. She was a blithe spirit, as I remember her, assertive, gleeful, expansive, loud and goofy with me when, to tease her, I'd pull on the bow of her apron strings … —Edward Hoagland, Harper's, July 2004

  2. Don't substitute corn syrup or molasses for cane syrup. Corn syrup is thinner, lighter and milder than cane syrup, and molasses is thicker, darker and much more assertive. —Denise Landis, New York Times, 2 Oct. 2002

  3. One of the points I think that's important is the way in which the United States has responded to the initiatives in the African Renaissance, and a lot of the developments that we have seen, in fact, have their roots in Africa. What it means for U.S. policy is that the Africans themselves are being much more assertive than they have been in the past. —Emerge, June 1998

  4. Daily newspaper in Chicago metro region seeks aggressive, assertive crime reporter who thrives on getting obligatory … items done fast in order to devote time to colorful stories about villains, victims and everything in between. —Editor & Publisher, 31 Oct. 1998

  5. Their daughter is an assertive little girl.

  6. If you want people to listen to your opinions, you'll need to learn to be more assertive.

Origin of assertive

(see assert)

First Known Use: circa 1619

Synonym Discussion of assertive

aggressive, militant, assertive, self-assertive mean obtrusively energetic especially in pursuing particular goals. aggressive implies a disposition to dominate often in disregard of others' rights or in determined and energetic pursuit of one's ends <aggressive in his business dealings>. militant also implies a fighting disposition but suggests not self-seeking but devotion to a cause, movement, or principle <militant protesters rallied against the new law>. assertive suggests bold self-confidence in expression of opinion <the more assertive speakers dominated the forum>. self-assertive connotes forwardness or brash self-confidence <a self-assertive young upstart>.

ASSERTIVE Defined for Kids


adjective as·ser·tive \ə-ˈsər-tiv\

Definition of assertive for Students

  1. :  having a bold or confident manner <an assertive attitude>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up assertive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


tending to dismiss important matters

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

reduce disapprove soothe perplex
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.