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

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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


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

For the town, the device signaled definitive proof that there may be weapons in the pond and surrounding area because of what used to be a Department of Defense facility in the area. Laney Ruckstuhl,, "Hanover pond shut down indefinitely after inactive explosive discovered," 19 June 2018 Thirty-nine years after the Soviet Union barged into Afghanistan, there’s now definitive proof that some good came out of the invasion. Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, "War Brought Cricket to Afghanistan," 13 June 2018 Still, his blog post does not offer definitive proof that either outage was caused by an attack. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "FCC accused of “spreading lies” about DDoS hitting comment system," 6 June 2018 For the remaining 340,000-plus lost to the purge, there is no definitive evidence that each were bought by Lewis. Katherine Fominykh,, "Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis lost about half his followers in Twitter's fake account purge," 13 July 2018 But there are also exams that don't yield definitive evidence. Colby Itkowitz, Washington Post, "The Health 202: Kavanaugh may not completely gut Obamacare if he makes it to the Supreme Court," 11 July 2018 Pseudopregnancies are common in giant pandas and difficult to distinguish from the real thing: only ultrasounds can provide definitive evidence. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "A Primer on the Zoo’s Possibly Pregnant Giant Panda," 28 June 2018 There is no definitive evidence yet that the Transitions program helps ex-inmates stay out of prison. New York Times, "They’re Out of Prison. Can They Stay Out of the Hospital?," 29 May 2018 Earl Comstock, director of the Office of Policy and Strategic Planning for the Department of Commerce, said there is no definitive evidence the citizenship question would impact response rates. Deborah Barfield Berry, USA TODAY, "Lawmakers agree to issue subpoena for Justice Department no-show regarding Census question," 8 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

15 Oct 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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