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 In the 2010s, the Air Force considered the A-29 a light-attack plane for use in permissive air defense environments—think Afghanistan, Somalia, or Syria—where modern air defenses are rare or nonexistent. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Air Force Dressed Up This A-29 in Vintage Air Commando Colors," 6 Apr. 2021 Small liberties were allowed—restaurants, bars, parties—which made Sweden seem wildly permissive. Mallory Pickett, The New Yorker, "Sweden’s Pandemic Experiment," 6 Apr. 2021 Residents could override these laws at the ballot box via the state's permissive referendum process, the memo states. Lauren Del Valle, CNN, "New York lawmakers reach a deal to legalize recreational marijuana, source says," 25 Mar. 2021 With Germany’s position as first among equals in the European Union, and a broader wariness against appearing permissive on vaccine safety, others quickly followed, including France, Italy and Spain. New York Times, "Europe’s Vaccine Ethics Call: Do No Harm and Let More Die?," 19 Mar. 2021 The Senate has previously approved more permissive bills that died in the House. Jeff Amy, ajc, "Bill to let home-schoolers in public school sports advances," 17 Feb. 2021 Once in England, he was enrolled at Devon’s wildly permissive Dartington Hall, which did without marks, prizes, penalties, competitions or compulsory classes. Maxwell Carter, WSJ, "‘The Lives of Lucian Freud, Vol. 2’ Review: Chaos and Character," 15 Jan. 2021 Will the permissive WFHers find that their company’s culture and creativity wither over time? Geoff Colvin, Fortune, "Employers bringing workers back to the office may be inviting them to an unfamiliar place," 4 Dec. 2020 With the county’s reentry into the state’s slightly more permissive red tier, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and museums were finally able to welcome patrons inside again, although at reduced capacities. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Heading indoors: San Diego reopens in time for St. Patrick’s Day," 17 Mar. 2021

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

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Permissive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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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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