as·​ser·​tive ə-ˈsər-tiv How to pronounce assertive (audio)
: disposed to or characterized by bold or confident statements and behavior
an assertive leader
: having a strong or distinctive flavor or aroma
assertive wines
assertively adverb
assertiveness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of assertive in a Sentence

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
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
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
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
Their daughter is an assertive little girl. If you want people to listen to your opinions, you'll need to learn to be more assertive. See More
Recent Examples on the Web There might be a genetic component too, as is the case with dogs: The scant studies on the subject suggest that certain interactive and assertive cat breeds, including Siamese and Abyssinians, are more inclined to retrieve. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 22 Nov. 2023 Needing a win to clinch their group and earn a spot in the knockout stage of the NBA’s first in-season tournament, the Lakers were way bigger than Utah, way more assertive, way more accurate, and eventually, way more successful in a 131-99 win Tuesday. Iliana Limón Romero, Los Angeles Times, 22 Nov. 2023 There were also challenges from a more assertive Third World or Global South. Martin Daunton, Fortune, 17 Nov. 2023 Now there’s a new edition of the Bootleg Series, an expensive 18-year-old bourbon given an unusual secondary maturation in Spanish red vermouth casks, and the resulting whiskey is bold and assertive. Jonah Flicker, Robb Report, 6 Nov. 2023 Expectation management aside, Scott needs a more assertive performance Wednesday. Alex Leary, WSJ, 28 Sep. 2023 The authors relate Hong Kong’s fate through the lives of four activists—three in their 20s and one, a retired pastor, nearly 80—who struggled to preserve their city’s freedoms and institutions in the face of an increasingly assertive Chinese Communist Party. Ellen Bork, WSJ, 7 Nov. 2023 Under the trilateral pact, the U.S. and Britain will cooperate to provide Australia with a fleet of submarines powered by U.S. nuclear technology to counter a more assertive China. Rod McGuirk, Fortune, 22 Oct. 2023 Shaft is best remembered for two things — Roundtree’s strong, confident, assertive portrayal of a Black man, which was groundbreaking at the time, and Isaac Hayes’ brilliant scoring work. Paul Grein, Billboard, 25 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'assertive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see assert

First Known Use

circa 1619, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of assertive was circa 1619

Dictionary Entries Near assertive

Cite this Entry

“Assertive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: having a bold or confident manner
assertively adverb
assertiveness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on assertive

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