as in rebellious
given to resisting authority or another's control the restive horse threw its head and refused to move when the rider urged it forward

Synonyms & Similar Words


Antonyms & Near Antonyms


Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective restive contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of restive are balky, contrary, perverse, and wayward. While all these words mean "inclined to resist authority or control," restive suggests unwillingness or inability to submit to discipline or follow orders.

tired soldiers growing restive

When would balky be a good substitute for restive?

The synonyms balky and restive are sometimes interchangeable, but balky suggests a refusing to proceed in a desired direction or course of action.

a balky witness

When can contrary be used instead of restive?

Although the words contrary and restive have much in common, contrary implies a temperamental unwillingness to accept orders or advice.

a contrary child

When is perverse a more appropriate choice than restive?

In some situations, the words perverse and restive are roughly equivalent. However, perverse may imply wrongheaded, determined, or cranky opposition to what is reasonable or normal.

a perverse, intractable critic

When could wayward be used to replace restive?

While the synonyms wayward and restive are close in meaning, wayward suggests strong-willed capriciousness and irregularity in behavior.

a school for wayward youths


Thesaurus Entries Near restive

Cite this Entry

“Restive.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jan. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on restive

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Fashionable Words

  • dog-sunglasses-scarf
  • Which of these items is named for a deadly weapon?
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?