dis·​tinc·​tive di-ˈstiŋ(k)-tiv How to pronounce distinctive (audio)
: marking as separate or different : serving to distinguish
the distinctive flight of the crane
: having or giving an uncommon and appealing quality : having or giving style or distinction
a distinctive table setting
a writer with a distinctive prose style
linguistics : capable of making a segment of utterance different in meaning as well as in sound from an otherwise identical utterance
distinctively adverb
distinctiveness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for distinctive

characteristic, individual, peculiar, distinctive mean indicating a special quality or identity.

characteristic applies to something that distinguishes or identifies a person or thing or class.

responded with her characteristic wit

individual stresses qualities that distinguish one from all other members of the same kind or class.

a highly individual writing style

peculiar applies to qualities possessed only by a particular individual or class or kind and stresses rarity or uniqueness.

an eccentricity that is peculiar to the British

distinctive indicates qualities distinguishing and uncommon and often superior or praiseworthy.

a distinctive aura of grace and elegance

Examples of distinctive in a Sentence

He had a very distinctive walk. This wine has a more distinctive flavor than that one. The store sells only the most distinctive chocolates.
Recent Examples on the Web Companies adopting a distinctive style are bound to generate conversations and discussions, elevating their brand awareness in the process. Nikita Prokhorov, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2024 Russell has been executing elegant looks for Elba that point to Russell’s sharp eye for crisp tailoring and distinctive pieces. Kerane Marcellus, Essence, 13 Feb. 2024 With its distinctive, strong flavor, matcha isn’t to everyone’s taste, so that is another factor to consider. Hannah Coates, Vogue, 13 Feb. 2024 Advertisement The 894-foot Mercy — which has a distinctive white hull adorned with a huge red cross — had visited the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia. Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 Feb. 2024 The three-time Japanese league MVP has already wowed Dodgers personnel in camp with his consistent delivery and distinctive pitching style (including a pre-pitch slide step and pirouette-like motion on the mound). Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 12 Feb. 2024 These features morph into the animals’ distinctive amber eyes and pale orange coat at around one month of age. Allison Parshall, Scientific American, 8 Feb. 2024 The Eiffel Tower’s distinctive dark brown paint was cleaned off, and the pieces cut into hexagons before being embossed with the Paris 2024 logo. Oscar Holland, CNN, 8 Feb. 2024 The older theater building has bowstring trusses which give it a distinctive curved roof, but also poses a challenge when battling fires, Hopkins said. Robert A. Cronkleton, Kansas City Star, 7 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'distinctive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see distinct

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near distinctive

Cite this Entry

“Distinctive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distinctive. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


dis·​tinc·​tive dis-ˈtiŋ(k)-tiv How to pronounce distinctive (audio)
: clearly marking a person or a thing as different from others
a distinctive walk
: having or giving a special look or way
distinctive clothes
distinctively adverb
distinctiveness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on distinctive

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