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[dih-stingk-tiv] /dɪˈstɪŋk tɪv/
serving to distinguish; characteristic; distinguishing:
the distinctive stripes of the zebra.
having a special quality, style, attractiveness, etc.; notable.
Origin of distinctive
1575-85; < Medieval Latin distinctīvus, equivalent to Latin distinct(us) distinct + -īvus -ive
Related forms
distinctively, adverb
distinctiveness, noun
subdistinctive, adjective
subdistinctively, adverb
subdistinctiveness, noun
Can be confused
1. individual. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for distinctiveness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It is the distinctiveness, not the universality of the truth, which renders it important.

  • By doing so he would augment his own dignity and the distinctiveness of his office.

    English Secularism George Jacob Holyoake
  • Christians:asserting their distinctiveness, 271 ff.trying to conquer the Spirit, 122 ff.

    The Ego and His Own Max Stirner
  • Manning had what has been called "the ambition of distinctiveness."

    Collections and Recollections George William Erskine Russell
  • What was gained in distinctness might have been lost in distinctiveness, and after all he did technically put us upon our guard.

British Dictionary definitions for distinctiveness


serving or tending to distinguish
denoting one of a set of minimal features of a phoneme in a given language that serve to distinguish it from other phonemes. The distinctive features of /p/ in English are that it is voiceless, bilabial, non-nasal, and plosive; /b/ is voiced, bilabial, non-nasal, and plosive: the two differ by the distinctive feature of voice
Derived Forms
distinctively, adverb
distinctiveness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for distinctiveness



early 15c., from Old French distinctif and directly from Medieval Latin distinctivus, from Latin distinct-, past participle of distinguere (see distinguish). Meaning "markedly individual" is from 1580s. Related: Distinctively; distinctiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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