Definition of restive in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈrestiv/


1(Of a person) unable to keep still or silent and becoming increasingly difficult to control, especially because of impatience, dissatisfaction, or boredom.
Example sentences
  • No, the workers were not restive, nor were pickets lining up outside.
  • Such resentful people easily become restive; should a promising opportunity to throw off the oppressor's dominion present itself, they may seize it.
  • Discontented with the lack of political rights, government corruption, and economic hardship, the country became increasingly restive during the 1980s, erupting into violent ethnic confrontations in 1992.
formal refractory
archaic contumacious
1.1(Of a horse) refusing to advance, stubbornly standing still or moving backward or sideways.
Example sentences
  • A smaller and lighter horse, but restive and fiery, was brought to Legolas.
  • It was a false scent, but ahead of him the horses grew restive, jostling and nipping, and the grey fretted against his hand.
  • The horses were now more restive than ever, and Johann was trying to hold them in, while excitedly imploring me not to do anything so foolish.



Pronunciation: /ˈrestivlē/
Example sentences
  • The minute hand on the clock above the Walls Unit entrance swept around past the 3, the 6, the 9, creeping toward 9 o'clock as the crowd looked on restively.
  • The finale (Ucelli sulle passioni), which, like the second movement, proceeds without pause, begins restively and roils like a volcano on the verge of eruption.
  • Johen's reply broke Jande's concentration on Dilys and her daughter, and she could hear their horses giving truth to Johen's words as they stamped restively on the track.


Pronunciation: /ˈrestivnəs/
Example sentences
  • Whenever stressed employees worked up the courage to venture criticism of him, Browne would point towards the sign, which was usually enough to quell any restiveness.
  • I feel that the restiveness will not calm down with my continued presence,’ Corpus said.
  • ‘There has been some understandable restiveness, but I have resolved this matter directly with the troops,’ she said.


Late 16th century: from Old French restif, -ive, from Latin restare 'remain'. The original sense, 'inclined to remain still, inert', has undergone a reversal; the association with the refractory movements of a horse gave rise to the current sense 'fidgety, restless'.

  • rest from Old English:

    In the sense ‘to stop working or moving’, rest is an Old English word from a root meaning ‘league’ or ‘mile’—the reference was to a distance after which a person rested. The rest that means ‘the remaining part’ comes from Latin restare ‘to remain’, also the source of to arrest someone (Late Middle English), which you do by stopping them, and restive (late 16th century). Like reprieve, restive is a word whose meaning has been reversed. Its original meaning was ‘inclined to stay still, inert’. It was then applied particularly to a horse which remained stubbornly still or shifted from side to side instead of moving on. From this came the current meaning of ‘restless, fidgety’.

Words that rhyme with restive


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: res·tive

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