con·​sti·​tu·​tive ˈkän(t)-stə-ˌtü-tiv How to pronounce constitutive (audio)
kən-ˈsti-chə-tiv How to pronounce constitutive (audio)
: having the power to enact or establish : constructive
: relating to or dependent on constitution
a constitutive property of all electrolytes
constitutively adverb

Examples of constitutive in a Sentence

the proposition that liberty and justice are constitutive elements of an enlightened society
Recent Examples on the Web Serge’s simultaneous ambivalence about the status of the individual and sympathetic investment in individuals (and his keen eye for particulars) provides the constitutive tension of his best fiction. Ben Lerner, The New York Review of Books, 29 Dec. 2022 Neoliberals’ constitutive disenfranchisement of voters and all those without a foothold in the asset economy is very much still with us. Aaron Timms, The New Republic, 31 Oct. 2022 But in Meacham’s treatment, such personal details function as supporting pieces in a story designed around high-stakes campaign speeches, the constitutive ritual of inaugurations and grave moments of statesmanship. John Fabian Witt, Washington Post, 24 Oct. 2022 And both suggest that the impulse to cheat, cut corners and get over on chumps, if not inflict harm upon them outright, is far from some aberrant pathology in the American identity but rather a constitutive force. New York Times, 9 Feb. 2022 The argument that something like PTSD existed prior to industrialization must be sustained with evidence of symptoms constitutive of the modern definition. Will Self, Harper's Magazine, 23 Nov. 2021 White supremacy has always been a constitutive piece of American national identity, but it cannot be openly claimed in a nation also founded on belief in democracy and freedom. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 11 Aug. 2021 Being part of the world of buying and selling is constitutive of what the visual arts have meant and have been since the end of the medieval era. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 5 Apr. 2021 Her life emblematized the concept of intersectionality, a term coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw to describe the ways in which distinct social identities, such as race and gender, are mutually constitutive. Emily Bernard, The New Republic, 25 Mar. 2021 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of constitutive was in 1592

Dictionary Entries Near constitutive

Cite this Entry

“Constitutive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Medical Definition


: of, relating to, or being an enzyme or protein produced in relatively constant amounts in all cells of an organism without regard to cell environmental conditions (as the concentration of a substrate) compare inducible sense a
: controlling production of or coding genetic information for a constitutive enzyme or protein
constitutive genes
constitutive mutations
: being chromatin of a chromosomal region that is condensed into heterochromatin in all cells of an organism rather than just some
constitutively adverb
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