Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[res-tiv] /ˈrɛs tɪv/
impatient of control, restraint, or delay, as persons; restless; uneasy.
refractory; stubborn.
refusing to go forward; balky:
a restive horse.
Origin of restive
late Middle English
1375-1425; rest2 + -ive; replacing late Middle English restif stationary, balking < Old French: inert
Related forms
restively, adverb
restiveness, noun
Can be confused
restful, restive.
1. nervous, unquiet. 2. recalcitrant, disobedient, obstinate.
1. patient, quiet. 2. obedient, tractable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for restive
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The horse was restive, looking over its shoulder at him, not liking what was going on.

  • Under all these restrictions the colonies were not as yet restive.

    The Siege of Boston Allen French
  • Many of them are nervous and restive, and not easily approached.

    Cattle and Their Diseases Robert Jennings
  • Underneath it every horse was restive and every voice had an edge.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • He dropped from the omnibus at the park entrance, where he found his restive mare.

    The Lure of the Mask Harold MacGrath
British Dictionary definitions for restive


restless, nervous, or uneasy
impatient of control or authority
Derived Forms
restively, adverb
restiveness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Old French restif balky, from rester to remain
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for restive

early 15c., restyffe "not moving forward," from Middle French restif "motionless, brought to a standstill" (Modern French rétif), from rester "to remain" (see rest (n.2)). Sense of "unmanageable" (1680s) evolved via notion of a horse refusing to go forward.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for restive

Word Value for restive

Scrabble Words With Friends