Definition of constructive in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /kənˈstrəktiv/


1Serving a useful purpose; tending to build up: constructive criticism
More example sentences
  • Comments, advice, suggestions or constructive criticism are especially welcome.
  • Any advice and/or constructive criticism is welcome, as always.
  • Oh, and thank you for all the advice, I love constructive criticism.
2 Law Derived by inference; implied by operation of law; not obvious or explicit: constructive liability
More example sentences
  • Traditionally there has been a reluctance to use a driving offence as the unlawful act in constructive manslaughter.
  • Further, the composition of liability as a constructive trustee is wider than a tracing order in equity.
  • The fault requirement for the offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm reveals that it is an offence of constructive liability.
3 Mathematics Relating to, based on, or denoting mathematical proofs that show how an entity may in principle be constructed or arrived at in a finite number of steps.
Example sentences
  • He made a good start to solving this problem for n = 2 when he found a constructive proof of a finite basis for binary forms.
  • He is perhaps best known, however, as one of the founders of the constructive approach to contemporary mathematics.
  • His repudiation of excluded middle flows from his constructive conception of mathematics.



Example sentences
  • In fairness, the local authority have played an important part in improving the physical environment for business but their constructiveness in this regard is now being nullified by their destructiveness.
  • They feel that as the biggest constituent part of Britain, they have a sense of responsibility to other smaller parts and that they have to demonstrate a certain constructiveness to their political demands.
  • Multiple honour rolls could address different aspects, such as helpfulness to editors, high ratings from fellow reviewers, or good marks from rejected authors on constructiveness.


Mid 17th century (sense 2): from late Latin constructivus, from Latin construct- 'heaped together', from the verb construere (see construct).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: con·struc·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.