1 of 2


di·​rec·​tive də-ˈrek-tiv How to pronounce directive (audio)
: serving or intended to guide, govern, or influence
a directive method
: serving to point direction
specifically : directional sense 1b
directive microphones
psychology : of or relating to psychotherapy or counseling in which the counselor introduces information, content, or attitudes not previously expressed by the client


2 of 2


: something that serves to direct, guide, and usually impel toward an action or goal
especially, government : an authoritative order or instrument issued by a high-level body or official
a presidential directive

Example Sentences

Noun They received a written directive instructing them to develop new security measures. the company president regularly issues directives intended for all staff members
Recent Examples on the Web
Extroverted leaders may guide their employees with more directive measures and even spontaneity. Ivan Ong, Forbes, 27 Dec. 2022 After the state rested its case Monday inside the Irwin County courthouse, defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant asked the judge to issue a directive verdict or dismissal of the case. Alexis Stevens, ajc, 16 May 2022 In 2019, the Trump administration introduced a rule change that barred providers participating in Title X from engaging in what’s known as non-directive pregnancy counseling. Jennifer Gerson, USA TODAY, 9 Oct. 2021 The City Council passed the directive 6-1 on Friday evening, with Vice Mayor Nikki Lee dissenting. Miguel Torres, The Arizona Republic, 14 Aug. 2021 In his book Quiet Leadership, David Rock talks a lot about how a coaching role is more effective than a directive management role. Antonia Bowring, Forbes, 1 June 2021 The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league did not make the directive public. Barry Wilner, Star Tribune, 7 May 2021 The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league did not make the directive public., 7 May 2021 Yet in many organizations, traditional directive male leadership has been predominant, and their leaders do not necessarily have the skills to lead collaboratively, nurture culture change, and turn around businesses. Joe Ferreira, Forbes, 7 Apr. 2021
But individual franchises still have great latitude in implementing that directive. Mark Kreidler, USA TODAY, 20 Jan. 2023 Li compared China’s zero-covid directive to past political campaigns like Mao Zedong’s disastrous Great Leap Forward or the Cultural Revolution. Lily Kuo, Washington Post, 19 Jan. 2023 But the administration’s Dec. 28 directive drew criticism from the United Faculty of Florida union. Ryan Dailey, Orlando Sentinel, 19 Jan. 2023 With the European directive underway, activists are looking beyond individual product bans to measures including the promotion of reusable containers. Daniel Victor, New York Times, 17 Jan. 2023 The response was carefully worded to avoid being an edict or directive, only offering suggestions of what might be done for treatment. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 1 Jan. 2023 The Defense Department’s directive, included within an extensive mandate to strip away all remaining attachment to the Confederacy, is stark and vague. Hope Hodge Seck,, 29 Dec. 2022 Three executives and the senior staffers who report to them now have to put that directive into practice. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 11 Jan. 2023 In the Northern District based in Hammond, that directive falls to Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Ault, who has been handling environmental matters with the office since November 2003. Amy Lavalley, Chicago Tribune, 22 Oct. 2022 See More

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

Word History



see direct entry 1


see direct entry 1

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1902, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of directive was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near directive

Cite this Entry

“Directive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


: something that guides or directs
especially : a general instruction from a high-level body or official

Medical Definition


di·​rec·​tive də-ˈrek-tiv, dī- How to pronounce directive (audio)
: of or relating to psychotherapy in which the therapist introduces information, content, or attitudes not previously expressed by the client

More from Merriam-Webster on directive

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?