de·​fin·​i·​tive | \di-ˈfi-nə-tiv \

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

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

Did You Know?

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


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

My dream is to pick a topic, pick a war, pick a decision that has consequence and just report the hell out of it for like three years, and just have this really definitive account of something that has really big public import. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Axios’ Jonathan Swan explains what the press gets wrong about the Trump administration," 6 Dec. 2018 Now supply is down and demand is up — good news for Christmas tree farmers but hardly a definitive shift for their industry, given that the majority of Americans continue to buy artificial trees. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "The cost of real Christmas trees is on the rise — thanks to millennials," 5 Dec. 2018 No definitive connection between the line outage and the fire has been made. Nicole Friedman, WSJ, "The Bond That Could Be Wiped Out by California’s Wildfires," 5 Dec. 2018 Valentino Haute Couture also provided Tessa Thompson with a definitive go-big-or-go-home dress in ravishing chartreuse. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "10 Best Dressed: Week of December 3, 2018," 3 Dec. 2018 So many, in fact, that curating a list of the definitive best is an impossible task. Nina Bahadur, SELF, "21 Best Books of 2018 to Buy for the Bookworm in Your Life," 15 Nov. 2018 Photo: United States Geological Survey Researchers just released an update to the definitive list of most threatening volcanoes in the United States. Mary Beth Griggs, The Verge, "Volcanologists just ranked the most threatening volcanoes in the United States," 26 Oct. 2018 There’s no definitive list of Samsung phone models affected yet, and the issue may be related to recent software updates pushed to phones. Glenn Fleishman, Fortune, "Some Samsung Phones Are Randomly Texting Photos to Contacts and It's Freaking People Out," 3 July 2018 This story does not include a definitive list of every tunnel or covered passage in the city. Christine Clarridge, The Seattle Times, "Save time, stay dry on foot in Seattle’s ‘hidden’ passageways and tunnels," 30 May 2018

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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Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for definitive

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

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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 \

Medical Definition of definitive 

: fully differentiated or developed a definitive organ

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Comments on definitive

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


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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