Definition of derivative in English:

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Pronunciation: /dɪˈrɪvətɪv/


1Imitative of the work of another artist, writer, etc., and usually disapproved of for that reason: an artist who is not in the slightest bit derivative
More example sentences
  • Moreover, says the performer, that painful experience is what led Shakespeare to become more than a sharp-tongued wit, more than the derivative writers of his era and ours.
  • I suppose she is a cultural phenomenon that cannot be ignored, but I find her programme, and the derivative imitators to be deadly dull and no substitute for actual thought.
  • However, he is not a derivative imitator of classic Japanese cinema, but one of its original though sadly neglected film-makers.
1.1Originating from, based on, or influenced by: Darwin’s work is derivative of the moral philosophers
More example sentences
  • I particularly remember a poem which was very derivative of English poetry called ‘Fugue’ by Neville Dawes, a Jamaican novelist and poet.
  • With gameplay more derivative of the Harlem Globetrotters than the NBA, players bust insane ankle-breaking moves to confuse and fake out opponents on their way to the hoop.
  • In 1913 he was overwhelmed by the European modernism exhibited at the Armory Show and his style entered an eclectic, derivative phase, influenced by Gauguin, Matisse, and van Gogh.
2 [attributive] Finance (Of a product) having a value deriving from an underlying variable asset: equity-based derivative products
More example sentences
  • It is possible to use unrealized gains in financial assets (including derivative contracts) as collateral for further purchases.
  • This is because they buy complex derivative products to mirror the performance of the underlying stock market index or indices which are not transparently priced.
  • Given recent developments in calculation and derivative products, new opportunities are now available in portfolio construction and trading.


1Something which is based on another source: the aircraft is a derivative of the Falcon 20G
More example sentences
  • International trade include import, export and re-export of live and animal trophies, plants and parts and derivatives thereof, based on a permit certification system.
  • The modern territorial state upon which it was based was a derivative of the Italian Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation.
  • Thus, the holders of Barrie's copyright claim a perpetual right to control derivative works based on Peter Pan, even though the original work passed into the public domain.
1.1A word derived from another or from a root in the same or another language: fly-tip’ is a derivative of the phrase ‘on the fly
More example sentences
  • And you could write down just as many derivatives of any other root: fish, or coffee, or excrement.
  • In the Greek-Latin languages and their derivatives we find this same root appearing as super, sphere, spore and spirit to mention just a few that are relevant to the subject at hand.
  • And they were our distant brothers and not unlike the Romance languages that you know, the Italians and the Spaniards and the French all come from a Latin derivative or Latin root.
derived word, descendant
1.2A substance that is derived chemically from a specified compound: crack is a highly addictive cocaine derivative
More example sentences
  • The principal UVB absorbers are para-aminobenzoic acid derivatives, salicylates, cinnamates and camphor derivatives and microfine titanium dioxide.
  • For example, the alcohol derivative of methane is methanol and of ethane is ethanol.
  • Industrially, phosphoric acid and its derivatives are used in metal cleaning and treatment.
by-product, spin-off, offshoot, subsidiary product
2 (often derivatives) Finance An arrangement or product (such as a future, option, or warrant) whose value derives from and is dependent on the value of an underlying asset, such as a commodity, currency, or security: [as modifier]: the derivatives market
More example sentences
  • Futures and options are derivatives because their value depends on the price of the underlying asset, be it a commodity, investment or index.
  • As markets move, as interest rates rise and fall, as currencies move in value against each other, the fair values of these financial assets and derivatives can change dramatically.
  • Hedge fund managers also invest in derivatives, options, futures and other exotic or sophisticated securities.
3 Mathematics An expression representing the rate of change of a function with respect to an independent variable.
Example sentences
  • He undertook a large-scale work on generalised differential equations in functional derivatives.
  • The following applet, for example, helps observe the relations between a function and its derivative and integral with not a single formula involved.
  • These include singular solutions to differential equations, a change of variables formula, and a way of relating the derivative of a function to the derivative of the inverse function.



Example sentences
  • The word for hour by the end of the fourth century was hora; earlier this same word had meant ‘season’ and, derivatively, ‘fitting or appointed time.’
  • Now that we have begun to produce energy directly in nuclear power plants of our own design and construction, we are merely tapping the universal energy source that previously we have used only indirectly and derivatively.
  • Assuming that they stuck to the ideology of interventionism, the policymakers would respond yet again with a new intervention to correct for the second and, derivatively, for the first.


Late Middle English (in the adjective sense 'having the power to draw off', and in the noun sense 'a word derived from another'): from French dérivatif, -ive, from Latin derivativus, from derivare (see derive).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: de¦riva|tive

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