- habitually or characteristically accepting or tolerant of something, as social behavior or linguistic usage, that others might disapprove or forbid.
- granting or denoting permission: a permissive nod.
- Genetics. (of a cell) permitting replication of a strand of DNA that could be lethal, as a viral segment or mutant gene.
Origin of permissive
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- tolerant; lenientpermissive parents
- indulgent in matters of sexa permissive society
- granting permission
- archaic not obligatory
Word Origin and History for nonpermissive
c.1600, "allowing to pass through," from Old French permissif, from Latin permiss-, past participle stem of permittere "to let go, let pass, let loose" (see permit (v.)). In sense of "tolerant, liberal" it is first recorded 1956; by 1966 it had definite overtones of sexual freedom. Earlier it meant "permitted, allowed" (early 15c.). Related: Permissively; permissiveness.