di·​rec·​tive | \ də-ˈrek-tiv How to pronounce directive (audio) , dī- \

Definition of directive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : serving or intended to guide, govern, or influence a directive method
2 : serving to point direction specifically : directional sense 1b directive microphones
3 psychology : of or relating to psychotherapy or counseling in which the counselor introduces information, content, or attitudes not previously expressed by the client



Definition of directive (Entry 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

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of directive in a Sentence

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: Adjective 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 What followed was a flurry of directive fingers from shoppers helping guide officers to the location of all three fleeing perps. Kim Fu, The Mercury News, 10 July 2019 Most intriguingly, the new app will take a more directive approach to making suggestions to drivers about where to go and what to do. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, 10 Apr. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Dismiss everyone at once, throughout Russia, with a single telegram directive. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, National Review, 13 Oct. 2021 Director Carvajal put out an internal memo on September 29, 2021 with the directive to the agency on the mandate, its implementation and the penalty for not complying. Walter Pavlo, Forbes, 6 Oct. 2021 Montoya is accused of ignoring a directive issued by the commander general of the military forces to prioritize captures over combat deaths. Washington Post, 25 Aug. 2021 In opening statements delivered earlier Wednesday, Assistant Ohio Attorney General Matthew Meyer said Budish appointed Mills as the director of corrections with a specific directive to institute the county’s plan to regionalize the jail. Cory Shaffer, cleveland, 25 Aug. 2021 May 2020 ruling that put a pause on that directive. oregonlive, 18 Aug. 2021 More than a few cops, however, are ignoring the directive — and getting caught. Kevin Rector, Los Angeles Times, 12 Aug. 2021 Even so, a spokesman for Republican Sen. Steve Nass of Whitewater, who proposed the motion, said the UW System has 30 days to comply with today's directive or end their mandate. Devi Shastri, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3 Aug. 2021 However, under that directive, masks were considered optional for visitors. Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, 29 July 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of directive


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1902, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for directive


see direct entry 1


see direct entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About directive

Time Traveler for directive

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near directive

direction word


directive antenna

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for directive

Last Updated

18 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Directive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for directive



English Language Learners Definition of directive

: an official order or instruction


di·​rec·​tive | \ də-ˈrek-tiv, dī- How to pronounce directive (audio) \

Medical Definition of directive

: 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

Nglish: Translation of directive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of directive for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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