adjective dis·tinc·tive \ di-ˈstiŋ(k)-tiv \
|Updated on: 10 Aug 2018

Definition of distinctive

1 a : marking as separate or different : serving to distinguish
  • the distinctive flight of the crane
b : 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
2 linguistics : capable of making a segment of utterance different in meaning as well as in sound from an otherwise identical utterance





Examples of distinctive in a Sentence

  1. He had a very distinctive walk.

  2. This wine has a more distinctive flavor than that one.

  3. The store sells only the most distinctive chocolates.

Recent Examples of distinctive from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of distinctive

Synonym Discussion of 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

DISTINCTIVE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of distinctive for English Language Learners

  • : having a quality or characteristic that makes a person or thing different from others : different in a way that is easy to notice

  • : appealing or interesting because of an unusual quality or characteristic

DISTINCTIVE Defined for Kids


adjective dis·tinc·tive \ di-ˈstiŋk-tiv \

Definition of distinctive for Students

1 : clearly marking a person or a thing as different from others
  • As they got closer he … could hear Mr. Sir's distinctive bark.
  • —Louis Sachar, Holes
2 : having or giving a special look or way
  • distinctive clothes



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