[ uh-sur-tiv ]
/ əˈsɜr tɪv /
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See synonyms for: assertive / assertiveness on Thesaurus.com

confidently aggressive or self-assured; positive: aggressive; dogmatic: He is too assertive as a salesman.
having a distinctive or pronounced taste or aroma.


These are smilar words, and share related meanings, but their uses are very different. Click on the buttons to learn more about these commonly confused words.
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Origin of assertive

First recorded in 1555–65; assert + -ive


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does assertive mean?

Assertive commonly means confident and direct when trying to get what one wants or saying what one wants to say. It can also mean aggressive, forceful, or having a tendency to make demands.

These two meanings are typically applied to people, their personalities, or their actions. Assertive is sometimes also applied to food to mean having a bold flavor.

Example: If you want your work to be noticed, you have to be more assertive—you can’t just sit quietly at every meeting.

Where does assertive come from?

The first records of the word assertive come from the mid-1500s. It comes from the Latin assertus, meaning “defended” or “claimed.” Assertive can be thought of as the adjective version of the verb assert, which means “to maintain or defend” (as in phrases like assert your rights or assert their dominance), but assertive has actually been in use for longer than assert.

Assertive is often used to describe a confident person’s personality. People who are assertive are confident, they speak up for themselves, and they take charge. But that doesn’t mean they’re seen as aggressive. When described with this sense of the word, they are thought to be able to get their point across without being overly forceful. This sense of assertive is the opposite of passive and it is generally used in a positive way.

But sometimes assertive is used in a negative way to mean “aggressive,” “forceful,” or “demanding.” Someone might be described in this way if they constantly assert their opinions or beliefs, especially without allowing anyone to question them or without letting others state their own.

When used to describe food and drink, assertive means something has a real kick to it—the opposite of bland. Red wine and strong cheeses are two things whose flavors are frequently called assertive.

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What are some other forms related to assertive?

  • assert (verb)
  • assertively (adverb)
  • assertiveness (noun)
  • nonassertive (adjective)
  • assertion (noun)

What are some synonyms for assertive?

What are some words that share a root or word element with assertive


What are some words that often get used in discussing assertive?

How is assertive used in real life?

Assertive can be used both positively (meaning “confident”) and negatively (meaning “aggressive”).



Try using assertive!

Which of the following is NOT a synonym for assertive?

A. insecure
B. confident
C. persistent
D. self-assured

How to use assertive in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for assertive

/ (əˈsɜːtɪv) /

confident and direct in claiming one's rights or putting forward one's views
given to making assertions or bold demands; dogmatic or aggressive

Derived forms of assertive

assertively, adverbassertiveness, 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