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See more synonyms for constructive on Thesaurus.com
  1. helping to improve; promoting further development or advancement (opposed to destructive): constructive criticism.
  2. of, relating to, or of the nature of construction; structural.
  3. deduced by inference or interpretation; inferential: constructive permission.
  4. Law. denoting an act or condition not directly expressed but inferred from other acts or conditions.
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Origin of constructive

1670–80; < Medieval Latin constrūctīvus, equivalent to Latin constrūct(us) (see construct) + īvus -ive
Related formscon·struc·tive·ly, adverbcon·struc·tive·ness, nounnon·con·struc·tive, adjectivenon·con·struc·tive·ly, adverbnon·con·struc·tive·ness, nounqua·si-con·struc·tive, adjectivequa·si-con·struc·tive·ly, adverbun·con·struc·tive, adjectiveun·con·struc·tive·ly, adverb


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

productive, useful, effective, positive, valuable, practical

Examples from the Web for constructive

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Vaucanson was a man of the highest order of constructive genius.


    Samuel Smiles

  • He is fertile in plan and constructive in method because he has creative imagination.

    Herbert Hoover

    Vernon Kellogg

  • The field is almost virgin, and the need for constructive programs is acute.

    College Teaching

    Paul Klapper

  • With a fifty-dollar teacher, constructive work was likely lacking.

  • We see at once that that doctrine was not negative but positive and constructive.

    History of Religion

    Allan Menzies

British Dictionary definitions for constructive


  1. serving to build or improve; positiveconstructive criticism
  2. law deduced by inference or construction; not expressed but inferred
  3. law having a deemed legal effectconstructive notice
  4. another word for structural
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Derived Formsconstructively, adverbconstructiveness, 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

Word Origin and History for constructive


early 15c., "derived by interpretation," from Middle French constructif or from Medieval Latin constructivus, from Latin construct-, past participle stem of construere "to heap up" (see construction). Meaning "pertaining to construction" is from 1817; "having the quality of constructing" is from 1841. Related: Constructively. Constructive criticism is attested by 1841.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper