Definition of representative in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /rɛprɪˈzɛntətɪv/


1Typical of a class, group, or body of opinion: Churchill was not properly representative of influential opinion in Britain
More example sentences
  • Here is a representative synopsis of current opinion.
  • For one thing, we will have to ignore a good deal of commentary presented by nameless characters, by representative characters, and by lay figures who appear for one important speech and are never seen again.
  • Secondly, why would these representative strategies indicate that Julie's mind is ‘a place of absence’?
typical, prototypical, characteristic, illustrative, indicative;
archetypal, paradigmatic, exemplary
1.1Containing typical examples of many or all types: a representative sample of young people in Scotland
More example sentences
  • Let's consider his latest among a representative sample of 2004's notable short story collections.
  • A show currently at New York's Janos Gat Gallery features Ross's latest works, along with representative examples of earlier series.
  • The sheer number of illustrations is one of the book's main strengths and it is reasonably unlikely that any attempt to research a specific decanter will fail to locate a representative example.
2(Of a legislative assembly or deliberative body) consisting of people chosen to act and speak on behalf of a wider group: the new government lacked a representative assembly there was no representative body to fight for cricketers until 1968
More example sentences
  • The company told the Blessington Forum, a representative body of the town's businesses, that it was considering turning the dump into a legal landfill.
  • The Conference of Religious in Ireland, the representative body for the orders, recently called for more land to be made available for social housing.
  • In the UK, large companies have traditionally operated a system of workers' councils which also allow workers a say in the management of the business by allocating them places on such a representative body.
2.1(Of a government or political system) based on elected or chosen representatives: free elections and representative democracy
More example sentences
  • The main prerequisite of representative democracy is based on an assumption that an average citizen enjoys free and equal access to any political debate.
  • There is still an opportunity for the Bush Administration to set Iraq onto a political path leading to representative democracy.
  • The reason we have representative government is because we elect these people to spend a little time thinking that the issues, sometimes we don't have the time to do that.
elected, elective, chosen, democratic, popular, nominated, appointed, commissioned;
delegated, authorized, accredited, official
3Serving as a portrayal or symbol of something: the show would be more representative of how women really are
More example sentences
  • I tried to make music that suited the artist and reflected the signature of that artist, and was very representative of who they were.
  • In the absence of a more refined critique, Gritten's polemic seems more representative of that special, English resistance to theory than of something more relevant and positive.
  • User's Guide has a few advantages over its predecessors: by benefit of its timing, it's much broader and perhaps more representative of their two decades of prodigious output.
symbolic, emblematic, evocative
3.1(Of art) representational: the bust involves a high degree of representative abstraction
More example sentences
  • In a few paintings, abstract and representative imagery meet.
  • Smith translates complicated images of ‘accidental realities’ into film and photography as representative modes, which may provide an illusion of control over life.
  • The great three-bay Crucifixion in S. Giacomo, filled with incident and genre detail but controlled by a compositional rigour looking both to Giotto and to Roman relief sculpture, is representative.
4 Philosophy Relating to mental representation.


1A person chosen or appointed to act or speak for another or others, in particular:
Example sentences
  • Friends said it planned to focus on distributing its products, which include pensions and savings, through independent financial advisers and appointed representatives.
  • Independently appointed public representatives are involved in all stages of the process.
  • He refuses, but later does speak to Tribunal representatives, although still says he will not travel to give evidence.
spokesperson, spokesman, spokeswoman, agent;
officer, official;
mouthpiece, frontman, public relations officer, PRO
1.1An agent of a firm who travels to potential clients to sell its products: a sales representative for Norwich Union
More example sentences
  • As a result, there is now a combined sales force of more than 2,000 representatives selling Altace to an expanded market.
  • Nokia sales representatives don't talk about their products being the fastest or the lightest on the market, but they do talk about the great technology that lets customers communicate.
  • GlaxoSmithKline, with its vast network of sales representatives around the world, markets and sells for other drug companies.
commercial traveller, travelling salesman, salesman, saleswoman, agent, traveller
informal rep, knight of the road
North American informal drummer
British archaic commercial
1.2An employee of a travel company who lives in a resort and looks after the needs of its holidaymakers: make your own way to the Valley Inn, where you will be contacted by our tour representative
More example sentences
  • The tour representative is a mistress of the revels, who incites the children to even greater excesses than they can imagine for themselves, which eventually results in the death of one of them on his 21st birthday.
  • During the ski season, the company employs a further 20 part-time representatives in each of its resorts.
  • This tour can be booked locally with the travel representative.
1.3A person chosen or elected to speak and act on behalf of others in a legislative assembly or deliberative body: the District of Columbia’s representative in Congress the Cambodian representative to the UN
More example sentences
  • We want to make legislators and elected representatives accountable.
  • While VUWSA exec members are elected representatives, that does not give them free license to decide what Victoria University as a whole supports.
  • Few women are in positions of real responsibility in Japanese commerce and only around five per cent of women are elected representatives in Japan's Parliament.
Member of Parliament, MP, Member;
North American  Member of Congress, congressman, congresswoman, senator
1.4A delegate who attends a conference, negotiations, etc., so as to represent the interests of another person or group: a PLO representative attending a meeting in Damascus
More example sentences
  • NGO members as well as interested individuals and representatives attended the meeting from companies and relevant governmental agencies.
  • About 100 workers' representatives attended the hearing, but Sony was only represented by two Indonesian assistant managers.
  • About 160 Japanese company representatives attended the seminar.
delegate, commissioner, ambassador, attaché, envoy, emissary, chargé, chargé d'affaires, commissary, deputy, aide;
Scottish  depute;
Canadian & Australian  agent general;
Roman Catholic Church  nuncio
archaic legate, factor
1.5A person who takes the place of another on an official occasion: the Duke of Gloucester would attend the coronation as the representative of his father, King George V
More example sentences
  • The signing ceremony was attended by representatives of ten participating banks and a representative of the High Commissioner of the Republic of Namibia in the UK, the bank said in a statement.
deputy, substitute, stand-in, proxy, surrogate
2An example of a class or group: fossil representatives of lampreys and hagfishes
More example sentences
  • Agee refuses to cast his sharecroppers as representatives of a class only, insisting instead on the complex interaction between type and particular individual, between commodity and artifact.
  • The level of dissatisfaction could be seen by the fact that even representatives of the young middle classes were often upset.
  • Moreover, as Kempe travels throughout England and the rest of Europe, she often finds herself confronting less than exemplary representatives of her Lord.
example, specimen;
exemplar, exemplification, type, archetype, illustration



Pronunciation: /rɛprɪˈzɛntətɪvli/
Example sentences
  • It is much less adept at counting employees in small businesses, simply because there are too many small enterprises to representatively sample them.
  • The revolutionaries of 1789 assumed that national sovereignty could only be exercised representatively, but within ten years Napoleon had begun to show how it could be appropriated to legitimize dictatorship and even monarchy.
  • A left lower lobectomy was performed, and sectioning of the lung demonstrated a 1.3-cm firm, tan-pink mass which was representatively frozen.


Pronunciation: /rɛprɪˈzɛntətɪvnəs/
Example sentences
  • Writers who ignore or gloss over the audience cannot fully understand the appeal of popular figures, explore the music's contingent social effects, or contest the representativeness of existing accounts.
  • The issue of representativeness was of little significance because of my predominantly qualitative and narrative research approach.
  • What is obvious is that, despite this rainbow of representativeness, one notable absence was the working-class, white male.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: rep¦re¦sen|ta¦tive

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.