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 According to the latest state data, seven counties will move from the purple tier — the strictest level in the state’s four-category reopening roadmap — into the more permissive red tier, effective Wednesday. Luke Money, Los Angeles Times, "San Francisco, Silicon Valley, other areas allowed to resume indoor dining, gym reopenings," 2 Mar. 2021 Its usual Maryland hotel site is closed over COVID-19 restrictions, so the event shifted southward to the more permissive state of Florida. Steven Lemongello,, "Trump, DeSantis headline an Orlando CPAC event heavy on election conspiracies," 22 Feb. 2021 Some experts and advocates believe more are trying to cross illegally now that Biden is president, believing his administration will be more permissive than Trump's. Nomaan Merchant, Chron, "In Biden's early days, signs of Trump-era problems at border," 10 Feb. 2021 Within three or four years, over the late 2000s and early 2010s, a swath of neighboring districts in Tarrant and southern Dallas counties — Grand Prairie, Duncanville, DeSoto, Cedar Hill and Lancaster — moved to more permissive transfer policies. Callie Caplan, Dallas News, "The unregulated, All-Star-driven world of open enrollment loopholes in Texas high school football," 14 Jan. 2021 These rules are more permissive than those published just a few months earlier. Washington Post, "Parler’s got a porn problem: Adult businesses target pro-Trump social network," 2 Dec. 2020 The low estimate served to justify a permissive approach to regulating greenhouse gases, whether through power plant emissions rules or appliance efficiency standards. Paul Voosen, Science | AAAS, "Trump downplayed the costs of carbon pollution. That’s about to change," 22 Jan. 2021 But only months after the case was filed, Gwinnett changed its rules to favor more permissive speech on campus, leading a district court to dismiss the case as moot. Nicholas Rowan, Washington Examiner, "College campus free speech case unites religious and atheist groups at Supreme Court," 12 Jan. 2021 Following the 1956 revolution, in which Nagy was eventually deposed and executed by the Communists, the authorities continued to become more permissive of traditional Christmas practices and celebrations. Stephen Sholl, National Review, "A Communist Christmas Story," 25 Dec. 2020

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

4 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Permissive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for permissive



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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Comments on permissive

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