Definition of definitive in English:

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Pronunciation: /dəˈfinədiv/


1(Of a conclusion or agreement) done or reached decisively and with authority: a definitive diagnosis
More example sentences
  • He added: ‘It is far too early to reach any definitive conclusions and, in some areas, we may never reach that goal.’
  • It has found that numerous and serious deficiencies in the paper did not allow it to reach the same definitive conclusions reached by the authors.
  • It comes as a surprise, then, to learn that many medical studies include too few patients to reach any definitive conclusion.
conclusive, final, ultimate;
unconditional, unqualified, absolute, categorical, positive, definite
1.1(Of a book or other text) the most authoritative of its kind: the definitive biography of Harry Truman
More example sentences
  • Written by Teddy Fennelly, the book is deemed to be the definitive text on the co-operative movement in Ireland.
  • Fortunately, this may not be the definitive book on Bill Brandt.
  • On the Arts and Disciplines of the Liberal Letters was the definitive text for the Middle Ages.
authoritative, exhaustive, best, finest, consummate;
classic, standard, recognized, accepted, official
2(Of a postage stamp) for general use and typically of standard design, not special or commemorative.
Example sentences
  • This review includes definitive and commemorative stamp types with some exceptions.
  • Everyday stamps are called definitives, and are available continuously, being reprinted as necessary.
  • There are two types of postage stamps: definitives and commemoratives.


A definitive postage stamp.
Example sentences
  • In contrast, the second set of definitives, the ‘Five Year Plan Series’, were forward looking and depicted the nation assuming its historical destiny as it sought to reconstruct its greatness through economic modernisation.
  • The monarch, flag, maple leaf, and Parliament Building definitives are not included in this study.


Definitive in the sense ‘decisive, unconditional, final’ is sometimes confused with definite. Definite means ‘clearly defined, precise, having fixed limits,’ but definitive goes further, meaning ‘most complete, satisfying all criteria, most authoritative’: although some critics found a few definite weak spots in the author’s interpretations, his book was nonetheless widely regarded as the definitive history of the war. A definite decision is simply one that has been made clearly and is without doubt, whereas a definitive decision is one that is not only conclusive but also carries the stamp of authority or is a benchmark for the future, as in a Supreme Court ruling. It is a common error to use definitive as though it were a more elegant way of saying definite.


Late Middle English: from Old French definitif, -ive, from Latin definitivus, from definit- 'set within limits', from the verb definire (see define).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: de·fin·i·tive

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