[ res-tiv ]
See synonyms for restive on
  1. impatient of control, restraint, or delay, as persons; restless; uneasy.

  2. refractory; stubborn.

  1. refusing to go forward; balky: a restive horse.

Origin of restive

1375–1425; rest2 + -ive; replacing late Middle English restif stationary, balking <Old French: inert

Other words for restive

Opposites for restive

Other words from restive

  • res·tive·ly, adverb
  • res·tive·ness, noun

Words that may be confused with restive

Words Nearby restive Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use restive in a sentence

  • A handsome soldier on a restive bay mare came next, and behind him a huge touring car with a pompous black chauffeur.

    The Sunbridge Girls at Six Star Ranch | Eleanor H. (Eleanor Hodgman) Porter
  • Long grass bordered the road on either side, and Barrington's horse suddenly shied and became restive.

    The Light That Lures | Percy Brebner
  • Even the platform supporters grew restive unconsciously, and stirred and coughed.

    The New Machiavelli | Herbert George Wells
  • Whatever court he went to (and he was often obliged to go to restive and refractory ones) he brought them into his measures.

  • But sometimes, as now, she was restive under his too close scrutiny.

    Quin | Alice Hegan Rice

British Dictionary definitions for restive


/ (ˈrɛstɪv) /

  1. restless, nervous, or uneasy

  2. impatient of control or authority

Origin of restive

C16: from Old French restif balky, from rester to remain

Derived forms of restive

  • restively, adverb
  • restiveness, 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