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 But Perseverance will most likely be unable to provide definitive proof of past life. Kenneth Chang, New York Times, "NASA Lands Perseverance on Mars," 18 Feb. 2021 Even an increase in the proportion of cases attributable to a particular variant is not definitive proof of an evolutionary advantage. Zeynep Tufekci, The Atlantic, "The Mutated Virus Is a Ticking Time Bomb," 31 Dec. 2020 Birdsall misses nothing in this definitive biography. Washington Post, "The best food books of 2020 that will get you thinking, not cooking," 24 Dec. 2020 There is no definitive scientific proof that this variant’s rapid spread in recent months is directly driven by the mutations. Anchorage Daily News, "U.S. officials debate travel bans as variant spreads in U.K.," 22 Dec. 2020 In 2015, Breakthrough Listen kicked off a decade-long search funded by Silicon Valley investor Yuri Milner, and so far, the team hasn’t found anything definitive in their scans of the skies. Nadia Drake, Science, "Alien hunters detect mysterious radio signal from nearby star," 18 Dec. 2020 With rumors abound surrounding Herman’s job security and future with the program, Del Conte hasn’t said anything definitive — in support of Herman or otherwise. Marcus Krum, Dallas News, "Tom Herman says Texas still plans to play Saturday against Kansas despite positive COVID-19 tests," 7 Dec. 2020 There is no definitive proof that Perdue, who is among the wealthier members of the Senate, acted on information gained as a member of Congress or through his long-standing relationship with company officials. CBS News, "Georgia Senator David Perdue boosts wealth with well-timed stock trades," 26 Nov. 2020 And Sony has confirmed that PS5 works with the existing PSVR ecosystem, hardware and software alike, while otherwise not saying anything definitive about future next-gen VR hardware. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Lifting the VR veil: How PlayStation 5 works with Sony’s last-gen headset," 6 Nov. 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

1 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Definitive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for definitive



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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