dis·tinc·tive | \di-ˈstiŋ(k)-tiv \

Definition of distinctive 

1a : 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

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Other Words from distinctive

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

What’s still debated, though, is which 1968 recording initially adapted a reggae beat distinctive from its rocksteady forerunner. Patricia Meschino, Billboard, "As Reggae Celebrates 50 Years, Some of the Genre's Pioneers Look Back on Its Worldwide Ascent," 1 July 2018 Think about why people are interested in my voice or your voice or anyone else’s voice, these totally distinctive voices. Recode Staff, Recode, "The New York Times’ The Daily podcast host Michael Barbaro talks with Kara Swisher," 29 June 2018 The packaging was not especially distinctive; there were no obvious logos. Kathleen Hou, The Cut, "Everyone Loves This Mysterious Lipstick," 27 June 2018 Warhol eventually added an audio track on which Velvet Underground vocalist Nico, who appeared in some of his other work, recites a poem in her distinctive, haunting voice. Deborah Martin, San Antonio Express-News, "Andy Warhol arrives with a bang this summer in San Antonio," 26 June 2018 In its boisterous depiction of hard-fighting men at work, The Eagle and the Hawk sometimes recalls the films of Hollywood director Raoul Walsh, though the interplay between group portrait and sensitive romance seems distinctive of Inoue. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "Film / Foreign Discover the work of noted Japanese genre director Umetsugu Inoue," 30 May 2018 Jones is part of this new era in Sharks hockey, which seems distinctive from the past two decades. Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle, "Goalie Martin Jones nearly impenetrable in Sharks’ sweep," 18 Apr. 2018 Davina and the Vagabonds are known for their vibrant live performances, as well as lead vocalist Lozier's distinctive, soulful voice. Author: Zakiya Mccummings, Anchorage Daily News, "Davina and the Vagabonds bring a bold blues sound to Anchorage," 2 Feb. 2018 City Theatre’s Summer Shorts Festival is a distinctive, highly anticipated event in South Florida's cultural firmament. Christine Dolen, miamiherald, "Summer Shorts Festival continues to electrify the season," 4 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of distinctive

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

History and Etymology for distinctive

see distinct

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Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for distinctive

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

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English Language Learners Definition of distinctive

: 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


dis·tinc·tive | \di-ˈstiŋk-tiv \

Kids Definition of distinctive

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

Other Words from distinctive

distinctively adverb

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Comments on distinctive

What made you want to look up distinctive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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