per·​mis·​sive | \ pər-ˈmi-siv How to pronounce permissive (audio) \

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 standard for a company to invoke a clause is typically permissive. Michael Mccann,, "Antonio Brown: Potential Legal Implications of Latest Developments," 20 Sep. 2019 Torres’ attorney Brian Lawler, however, said state law is not as permissive. Allie Morris,, "Iraq veteran’s case against Texas is testing job protections for homecoming troops," 17 Sep. 2019 Some argue that the new proposal, which would allow sidewalk sleeping in some areas day or night, is too permissive. Emily Alpert Reyes, Los Angeles Times, "Where could homeless people sleep under L.A. plan? Activists take to streets to check," 16 Sep. 2019 Overall, Columbia researchers say gun laws have become more permissive over the past decades. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, "Mass shooting death toll climbs in 2010s as nation searches for answers," 28 Dec. 2019 But analysts say Bolsonaro’s permissive rhetoric and lax enforcement have inspired more such activity. Washington Post, "Brazil’s Bolsonaro calls Amazon deforestation ‘cultural,’ says it ‘will never end’," 20 Nov. 2019 Reeping says this could be related to polarizing trends in gun policy-making, as generally permissive states make their laws more relaxed and restrictive states clamp down tighter and tighter in the face of rising violence. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "The Looser a State's Gun Laws, the More Mass Shootings It Has," 6 Aug. 2019 Some families rattled by their children’s marijuana problems have moved, seeking refuge in less permissive states. Jack Healy,, "Reefer madness or pot paradise? The surprising legacy of the place where legal weed began," 30 June 2019 Some families rattled by their children’s marijuana problems have moved, seeking refuge in less permissive states. Jack Healy, New York Times, "Reefer Madness or Pot Paradise? The Surprising Legacy of the Place Where Legal Weed Began," 30 June 2019

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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Time Traveler for permissive

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for permissive

Last Updated

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Permissive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for permissive


How to pronounce permissive (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of permissive

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


per·​mis·​sive | \ pər-ˈmis-iv How to pronounce permissive (audio) \

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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