Definition of permissive in English:

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Pronunciation: /pərˈmisiv/


1Allowing or characterized by great or excessive freedom of behavior: I was not a permissive parent the permissive society of the 60s and 70s
More example sentences
  • We seem to be living in a much more permissive society than our parents and grandparents did.
  • We live in a society today far more permissive than the one my parents grew up in.
  • Two men, you might argue, played a much greater part in creating the permissive, liberal society, and neither of them were baby boomers.
liberal, broad-minded, open-minded, free, free and easy, easygoing, live-and-let-live, latitudinarian, laissez-faire, libertarian, tolerant, forbearing, indulgent, lenient;
overindulgent, lax, soft
2 Law Allowed but not obligatory; optional: the Hague Convention was permissive, not mandatory
More example sentences
  • The legislation is permissive, not mandatory.
  • It is, however, to be noted that the power under s.14 is permissive and discretionary.
  • The courts have held that, where the applicable legislation is permissive, an employer's right to take a contribution holiday will be determined by the provisions of the Plan.
3 Biology Allowing a biological or biochemical process to occur: the mutants grow well at the permissive temperature
More example sentences
  • Incubation was at permissive temperatures for 3 days.
  • Cells were grown at a permissive temperature to midlog phase and then shifted to restrictive temperature.
  • Cells incubated at the permissive temperature demonstrated the typical ‘hill and valley’ appearance.
3.1Allowing the infection and replication of viruses.
Example sentences
  • The very immune cells that are activated to destroy the virus provide a permissive environment for virus propagation and persistence.
  • Endothelial cells are permissive to infection, but they appear to be secondary targets of the virus in infected NHP.
  • Finally, the two suppressors at codon 378 are both permissive for all bacteriophages tested at either 37° or 43°.



Pronunciation: /pərˈmisivlē/
Example sentences
  • The technology has numerous other uses, significantly reducing the distribution costs of public domain and permissively shared art and speech.
  • A permissively raised ‘me’ generation that was brought up to think only of itself is bringing back the rule book now that it has children of its own.
  • If powers are precisely rather than permissively formulated, procedures to render visible occasions of use are constructed.


Late 15th century (in the sense 'tolerated, allowed'): from Old French, or from medieval Latin permissivus, from permiss- 'allowed', from the verb permittere (see permit1).

Words that rhyme with permissive

missive, omissive, submissive

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: per·mis·sive

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