fix·​a·​tive ˈfik-sə-tiv How to pronounce fixative (audio)
: something that fixes or sets: such as
: a substance added to a perfume especially to prevent too rapid evaporation
: a substance used to fix living tissue
: a varnish used especially for the protection of drawings (as in pastel or charcoal)
fixative adjective

Examples of fixative in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Most of today’s dyes and fixatives are chemically synthesized from petroleum, then dumped into waterways. John Cumbers, Forbes, 6 May 2023 Musk was — and is — so popular for fragrance because it can be used either on its own or as an incomparable fixative. Mallory Locklear, Discover Magazine, 12 Oct. 2014 Going back to the religious boom of the 1950s, American political leaders have consistently reached for religion as a sort of all-purpose social fixative: a bedrock, shared faith in, well, the idea of faith. Matthew Sitman, The New Republic, 15 Apr. 2021 The variety is prized for its delicate flavors and also serves as a fixative, helping the gin to retain its citrus crispness. Jake Emen, Condé Nast Traveler, 18 May 2020 Wash the socks on cold in the washing machine with a fabric fixative. Elizabeth Paton, New York Times, 12 May 2020 Because analyzing the cells doesn't require the addition of fixatives or fluorescent dyes, ISL could be more consistent, less harmful to cultures, and enable longer-term monitoring of cellular health than traditional methods. Robbie Gonzalez, WIRED, 12 Apr. 2018 Previous techniques often required the use of dyes or fixatives to help see these molecules. Judith Vonberg, CNN, 4 Oct. 2017

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

Word History


from fixative, adjective, "serving to fix," borrowed from New Latin fīxātīvus, from Medieval Latin fīxātus, past participle of fīxāre "to reduce a volatile substance (in alchemy)" (in New Latin, "to fix") + Latin -īvus -ive — more at fixation

First Known Use

circa 1859, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of fixative was circa 1859

Dictionary Entries Near fixative

Cite this Entry

“Fixative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


fix·​a·​tive ˈfik-sət-iv How to pronounce fixative (audio)
: something that fixes or sets

Medical Definition


fix·​a·​tive ˈfik-sət-iv How to pronounce fixative (audio)
: a substance used to fix living tissue

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