Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective distinctive contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of distinctive are characteristic, individual, and peculiar. While all these words mean "indicating a special quality or identity," distinctive indicates qualities distinguishing and uncommon and often superior or praiseworthy.

a distinctive aura of grace and elegance

When could characteristic be used to replace distinctive?

The meanings of characteristic and distinctive largely overlap; however, characteristic applies to something that distinguishes or identifies a person or thing or class.

responded with her characteristic wit

When might individual be a better fit than distinctive?

The words individual and distinctive are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, individual stresses qualities that distinguish one from all other members of the same kind or class.

a highly individual writing style

When is it sensible to use peculiar instead of distinctive?

While in some cases nearly identical to distinctive, peculiar applies to qualities possessed only by a particular individual or class or kind and stresses rarity or uniqueness.

an eccentricity that is peculiar to the British

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Cite this Entry

“Distinctive.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/distinctive. Accessed 7 Feb. 2023.

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