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[ri-strik-tiv] /rɪˈstrɪk tɪv/
tending or serving to restrict.
of the nature of a restriction.
expressing or implying restriction or limitation of application, as terms, expressions, etc.
Grammar. limiting the meaning of a modified element:
a restrictive adjective.
Compare descriptive (def 2b).
Origin of restrictive
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English < Middle French restrictif < Latin restrict(us) (see restrict) + Middle French -if -ive
Related forms
restrictively, adverb
restrictiveness, noun
unrestrictive, adjective
unrestrictively, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for restrictive
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Undoubtedly these restrictive laws had their effect upon the temper of the people.

    The Siege of Boston Allen French
  • A restrictive clause is not separated by a comma from the noun.

    The Verbalist Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)
  • The relative should be restrictive: 'that I was a witness of.'

    The Verbalist Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)
  • But this is the restrictive or prohibitory system in its simplest form.

  • Nor can it be denied that, as a whole, this restrictive code was successful.

British Dictionary definitions for restrictive


restricting or tending to restrict
(grammar) denoting a relative clause or phrase that restricts the number of possible referents of its antecedent. The relative clause in Americans who live in New York is restrictive; the relative clause in Americans, who are generally extrovert, is nonrestrictive
Derived Forms
restrictively, adverb
restrictiveness, 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 restrictive

early 15c., "serving to bind or draw together," from Middle French restrictif, from Late Latin restrictivus, from Latin restrict-, past participle stem of restringere (see restriction). Meaning "imposing restriction" is from 1570s. Related: Restrictively; restrictiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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