per·mis·sive | \ pər-ˈmi-siv \

Definition of permissive 

1 archaic : granted on sufferance : tolerated

2a : granting or tending to grant permission : tolerant

b : deficient in firmness or control : indulgent, lax

3 : allowing discretion : optional reduced the permissive retirement age from 65 to 62

4 : supporting growth or genetic replication (as of a virus) permissive host cells

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Other words from permissive

permissively adverb
permissiveness noun

Examples of permissive in a Sentence

Some states have more permissive laws than others.

Recent Examples on the Web

The business community and Republicans in the Legislature, including Harris, routinely complain that Louisiana is too permissive of lawsuits. Julia O'donoghue,, "John Bel Edwards vetoes bill meant to help businesses like House GOP chairman's," 5 June 2018 Still, some left-leaning consumer groups criticized the SEC proposal as too permissive. Dave Michaels, WSJ, "SEC Chief Pitches Investors, Brokers to Back Rule Targeting Stockbroker Conflicts," 2 May 2018 Uber also has a center for self-driving car technology in Toronto but hasn't announced any plans to test self-driving cars there There are lots of other states with permissive laws for testing driverless cars, including Florida, Texas, and Nevada. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Uber wants to test driverless cars in Pittsburgh again—the mayor is pissed," 24 May 2018 Yet a $1 million contribution to a governor’s campaign, taking advantage of Texas’ permissive campaign-finance laws, will attract attention. James Drew, San Antonio Express-News, "From a ranch in Doss, quiet couple cause a $1.5 million stir in Texas politics," 13 Apr. 2018 Does this relatively permissive new guidance suggest that the FDA is willing to allow a fuller extent of off-label communication? John Osborn, STAT, "FDA allows off-label health care economic discussions. Is there more to come?," 29 June 2018 In some places people are less permissive than their laws. The Economist, "Ireland looks set to decriminalise abortion," 26 May 2018 Texas has some of the most permissive gun laws in the U.S. and just hosted the NRA's annual conference earlier this month. CBS News, "Texas gov.: 10 dead in high school shooting - live updates," 18 May 2018 In a new analysis from the RAND Corporation, researchers found that more restrictive laws lead to fewer gun deaths, while more permissive laws are linked with more gun deaths. Julia Belluz, Vox, "When gun owners meet for the NRA convention, gun injury rates seem to decline," 4 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'permissive.' 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 permissive

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for permissive

Middle English permyssyf, from Middle French permissif, from Latin permissus

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Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for permissive

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

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More Definitions for permissive



English Language Learners Definition of permissive

: giving people a lot of freedom or too much freedom to do what they want to do


per·mis·sive | \ pər-ˈmis-iv \

Medical Definition of permissive 

: supporting growth or genetic replication (as of a virus) permissive temperatures permissive monkey cells



Legal Definition of permissive 

1 : based on or having permission permissive occupancy a permissive user of the vehicle

2 : granting permission or discretion (as to the court) a permissive statute

3 : not compulsory: as

a : allowed or made under a standard, rule, or provision that permits discretion or an option — see also permissive intervention at intervention, permissive presumption at presumption — compare compulsory

b : allowed under modern rules of civil procedure although not arising from the same transaction or occurrence as the one at issue in the original claim a permissive counterclaim — see also permissive joinder at joinder

Other words from permissive

permissively adverb
permissiveness noun

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Comments on permissive

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


alleviating pain or harshness

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