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[mis-iv] /ˈmɪs ɪv/
a written message; letter.
sent or about to be sent, especially of a letter from an official source.
Origin of missive
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English (letter) missive < Medieval Latin (littera) missīva sent (letter), equivalent to Latin miss(us) (past participle of mittere to send) + -īva, feminine of -īvus -ive Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for missive
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • However that might be, Litvinov despatched his missive to Irina.

    Smoke Turgenev Ivan Sergeevich
  • Hath this missive from his Majesty no meaning for his bride of Venice?

    The Royal Pawn of Venice Mrs. Lawrence Turnbull
  • I judged that the date of the missive was at least ten or twenty years prior to the civil war.

    Kastle Krags Absalom Martin
  • Gyp opened the missive with the faint tremor she always felt when Summerhay was not with her.

    Beyond John Galsworthy
  • The Colonel secures the missive, tears the envelope to shreds, runs his eye over the trivial contents, and curses the War.

British Dictionary definitions for missive


a formal or official letter
a formal word for letter
(rare) sent or intended to be sent
Word Origin
C15: from Medieval Latin missivus, from mittere to send
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 missive

mid-15c., "commandment," noun use of adjective (mid-15c.) meaning "sent by superior authority," from Medieval Latin missivus "for sending, sent," especially in littera missiva "letters sent," from Latin missus, past participle of mittere "to send" (see mission).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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