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 As the search for a definitive cause continues, a small study published last week in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology provided a closer look at the damage to lung tissue caused by vaping THC. NBC News, "Doctors show how vaping THC damages lungs, as illnesses rise nationwide," 24 Oct. 2019 To right-leaning independents who have left the GOP, the distinctions between traditional Reaganite conservatism and modern Trumpism are crystal-clear and definitive. Jim Geraghty, National Review, "Democrats Think They Can Win without You," 18 Oct. 2019 But somehow watching them play it here, in the movie, felt more finite or definitive. Dan Snierson,, "Vince Gilligan breaks down El Camino — and how he decided which Breaking Bad characters to revive," 15 Oct. 2019 My presentation of these characteristics is not at all comprehensive or definitive as there is currently no authority that globally defines standards for what mobile money is. Wiza Jalakasi, Quartz Africa, "After years of rapid growth in Africa we’re about to enter the age of Mobile Money 2.0," 4 Oct. 2019 The title itself, declarative and definitive, is a shout of confidence. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Eddie Murphy Pays Tribute—Gloriously—to a Blaxploitation Legend in Dolemite Is My Name," 4 Oct. 2019 So here’s a quick, impromptu list (not at all definitive) of some memorable October moments at the Coliseum: • Roger Clemens’ epic meltdown in Game 4 of the 1990 American League Championship. Ron Kroichick,, "A’s return to a Coliseum stage flowing with memorable postseason moments," 2 Oct. 2019 Not quite as definitive, but perhaps a little more believable. John Archibald |, al, "Free tuition and a chicken in every pot," 1 Sep. 2019 Ricci is scheduled to have a fourth and definitive hearing on her asylum case in early October. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, ""I fear for our lives": Asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico face danger and desperation," 13 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for definitive

Last Updated

12 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for definitive

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

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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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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).


to speed up the process or progress of

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