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 A few weeks later, one of Joe Biden’s boldest yet attacks on President Trump was actually an attack on China, accusing Trump of being overly permissive toward the authoritarian regime. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "A New History of Being Asian-American," 14 May 2020 While its neighbors and the rest of Europe imposed strict lockdowns, Stockholm has taken a relatively permissive approach. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Weighing Sweden’s Coronavirus Model," 4 May 2020 The trend in recent decades has been toward a more permissive approach, at least in terms of allowing tax dollars to flow to religious organizations. Dan Horn,, "Cincinnati religious groups want taxpayer bailout: Even clergy salaries could be covered," 1 May 2020 Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer continue to explore scenarios for abbreviated seasons, possibly to be played at neutral sites, presumably under the auspices of permissive politicians. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Churchill Downs reopening reflects our new reality as sports remain in limbo amid COVID-19," 30 Apr. 2020 The most permissive rules are on the Peninsula, where the Peninsula Open Space District and Santa Clara County Parks have no closures in place. Tom Stienstra,, "San Mateo County shutters parks over coronavirus," 7 Apr. 2020 But with more Mormon women continuing their education, marrying later, and embracing mission work, some leaders are making moves toward a more permissive approach. Natasha Frost, Quartz, "Mormon women are caught between economic pressures and the word of God," 31 Dec. 2019 Even metropolitan areas with more permissive approaches to building are lagging behind their historical construction levels. Laura Kusisto, WSJ, "The Next Housing Crisis: A Historic Shortage of New Homes," 18 Mar. 2018 The state has a permissive voting system that requires ballots mailed in on election day to be counted, and the tallying could stretch into April. Nicholas Riccardi, Fortune, "6 takeaways from Biden’s big Super Tuesday bounce," 4 Mar. 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

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Permissive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 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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