de·​fin·​i·​tive | \ di-ˈfi-nə-tiv How to pronounce definitive (audio) \

Definition of definitive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : serving to provide a final solution or to end a situation a definitive victory could not give a definitive diagnosis
2 : authoritative and apparently exhaustive a definitive critical biography
3a : serving to define or specify precisely established definitive guidelines for sentencing criminals
b : serving as a perfect example : quintessential a definitive bourgeois A slow race is the definitive Leechfield competition. You win it by coming in last.— Mary Karr
4 biology : fully differentiated or developed a definitive organ
5 of a postage stamp : issued as a regular stamp for the country or territory in which it is to be used



Definition of definitive (Entry 2 of 2)

: a postage stamp issued as a regular stamp for the country or territory in which it is to be used : a definitive (see definitive entry 1 sense 5) postage stamp — compare provisional

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Other Words from definitive


definitively adverb
definitiveness noun

Synonyms for definitive

Synonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for definitive


conclusive, decisive, determinative, definitive mean bringing to an end. conclusive applies to reasoning or logical proof that puts an end to debate or questioning. conclusive evidence decisive may apply to something that ends a controversy, a contest, or any uncertainty. a decisive battle determinative adds an implication of giving a fixed character or direction. the determinative factor in the court's decision definitive applies to what is put forth as final and permanent. the definitive biography

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Something definitive is complete and final. A definitive example is the perfect example. A definitive answer is usually a strong yes or no. A definitive biography contains everything we'll ever need to know about someone. Ella Fitzgerald's famous 1950s recordings of American songs have even been called definitive--but no one ever wanted them to be the last.

Examples of definitive in a Sentence

Adjective We need a definitive answer to this question. The court has issued a definitive ruling. a definitive collection of the band's albums
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective An Independent Review Team made up of NASA and Boeing staffers who didn’t work on the vehicle are still studying data from the test flight and expect to release a definitive report by March. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "Boeing’s spacecraft test failure points to broader problems," 7 Feb. 2020 Gwen Chanzit writes in her definitive 2005 book Herbert Bayer and Modernist Design in America. Wendy Moonan, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Pioneering Work of Graphic Artist Herbert Bayer," 4 Feb. 2020 The story has a definitive ending; the story goes on. Dan Snierson,, "The Good Place finale: Kristen Bell on the emotional 'tough-love ending'," 31 Jan. 2020 Shanahan was less definitive, though, when asked who will start opposite Richard Sherman as the second outside cornerback. Matt Kawahara,, "49ers’ task vs. Packers: Disrupt the Aaron Rodgers-Davante Adams connection," 13 Jan. 2020 The findings are not definitive, and the firm ranked them at medium to high confidence. Louise Matsakis, Wired, "Everything We Know About the Jeff Bezos Phone Hack," 22 Jan. 2020 The truth is, no one yet has delivered a definitive and faithful version of this incredible book. Mark Dawidziak, cleveland, "Netflix’s much-debated ‘Dracula’ is latest in long TV bloodline," 11 Jan. 2020 Les Misérables is a response, indirect yet definitive, to the question of who belongs and who doesn’t. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "France's Oscar Entry Les Misérables Is an Invigorating Tale of Poverty and Revolt," 10 Jan. 2020 There’s no definitive line between what is a boat and a yacht but yachts are generally bigger than 90 feet. Laura Johnston, cleveland, "What kind of boat are you? We’ve got your match," 18 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'definitive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of definitive


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1951, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for definitive


Middle English diffynytif, borrowed from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French diffinitif "final, decisive," borrowed from Medieval Latin dēfīnītīvus, diffīnītīvus, going back to Latin dēfīnītīvus "involving definition," from dēfīnītus "limited, clearly defined" (past participle of dēfīnīre "to mark the limits of, determine, define") + -īvus -ive


derivative of definitive entry 1

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Time Traveler for definitive

Time Traveler

The first known use of definitive was in the 14th century

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Statistics for definitive

Last Updated

19 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Definitive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for definitive


How to pronounce definitive (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of definitive

: not able to be argued about or changed : final and settled
: complete, accurate, and considered to be the best of its kind


de·​fin·​i·​tive | \ di-ˈfin-ət-iv How to pronounce definitive (audio) \

Medical Definition of definitive

: fully differentiated or developed a definitive organ

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