View synonyms for descriptive


[ dih-skrip-tiv ]


  1. having the quality of describing; characterized by description:

    a descriptive passage in an essay.

  2. Grammar.
    1. (of an adjective or other modifier) expressing a quality of the word it modifies, as fresh in fresh milk. Compare limiting ( def 2 ).
    2. (of a clause) nonrestrictive. Compare restrictive ( def 4 ).
  3. noting, concerned with, or based upon the fact or experience.
  4. characterized by or based upon the classification and description of material in a given field:

    descriptive botany.


/ dɪˈskrɪptɪv /


  1. characterized by or containing description; serving to describe
  2. grammar (of an adjective) serving to describe the referent of the noun modified, as for example the adjective brown as contrasted with my and former
  3. relating to or based upon description or classification rather than explanation or prescription

    descriptive linguistics

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Derived Forms

  • deˈscriptiveness, noun
  • deˈscriptively, adverb

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Other Words From

  • de·scriptive·ly adverb
  • de·scriptive·ness noun
  • nonde·scriptive adjective
  • nonde·scriptive·ly adverb
  • nonde·scriptive·ness noun
  • over·de·scriptive adjective
  • over·de·scriptive·ly adverb
  • over·de·scriptive·ness noun
  • self-de·scriptive adjective
  • unde·scriptive adjective
  • unde·scriptive·ly adverb
  • unde·scriptive·ness noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of descriptive1

1745–55; < Late Latin dēscrīptīvus, equivalent to Latin dēscrīpt ( us ) ( description ) + -īvus -ive

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Example Sentences

Like Conway and Wolpert, he put his descriptive name into the titles of his work, not just the body.

Euclid’s Elements is full of common, descriptive names, even though he was drawing on discoveries made by many different people.

Every field has terms of art, but when those terms are descriptive, they are easier to memorize.

By now, descriptive alt texts should be best practice for all content teams.

A number of them — and I think it’s either misleading or not very descriptive — will call it the “bystander effect,” but that doesn’t tell you whether the bystander effect is to increase or decrease reporting.

She avoids an exhaustively descriptive definition because she opposes condemning all novels based on the flaws of some novels.

When you mail it in or bring it back, you include descriptive words that would lead a consumer to your work.

And so we are all supposed to denote something from “working mother” as a descriptive adjective.

The name is descriptive: they are extremely intense bursts of gamma rays, the highest energy form of light.

It was descriptive, prescriptive, and exemplary in its clarity.

His Characters, in imitation of Theophrastus, is a work of established excellence, and descriptive of the manners of that age.

As Mrs. Armine looked at him she remembered the descriptive phrase that set him apart from all the people of Luxor.

In one of them, descriptive of antediluvial history, is a painting of Lamech shooting Cain with a bow and arrow.

These things are beyond my knowledge, which it would perhaps be more descriptive to call ignorance.

Save incidentally—for he did send descriptive articles to The Daily Gazette—he was not out on professional business.





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