serving to distinguish; characteristic; distinguishing: the distinctive stripes of the zebra.
having a special quality, style, attractiveness, etc.; notable.

Origin of distinctive

1575–85; < Medieval Latin distinctīvus, equivalent to Latin distinct(us) distinct + -īvus -ive
Related formsdis·tinc·tive·ly, adverbdis·tinc·tive·ness, nounsub·dis·tinc·tive, adjectivesub·dis·tinc·tive·ly, adverbsub·dis·tinc·tive·ness, noun
Can be confuseddistinctive distinguishable distinguished

Synonyms for distinctive

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for distinctiveness

uniqueness, specialty, discreteness, separateness, particularity

Examples from the Web for distinctiveness

Contemporary Examples of distinctiveness

Historical Examples of distinctiveness

  • It is the distinctiveness, not the universality of the truth, which renders it important.

  • By doing so he would augment his own dignity and the distinctiveness of his office.

    English Secularism

    George Jacob Holyoake

  • Christians:asserting their distinctiveness, 271 ff.trying to conquer the Spirit, 122 ff.

  • Manning had what has been called "the ambition of distinctiveness."

    Collections and Recollections

    George William Erskine Russell

  • What was gained in distinctness might have been lost in distinctiveness, and after all he did technically put us upon our guard.

British Dictionary definitions for distinctiveness



serving or tending to distinguish
denoting one of a set of minimal features of a phoneme in a given language that serve to distinguish it from other phonemes. The distinctive features of /p/ in English are that it is voiceless, bilabial, non-nasal, and plosive; /b/ is voiced, bilabial, non-nasal, and plosive: the two differ by the distinctive feature of voice
Derived Formsdistinctively, adverbdistinctiveness, 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 distinctiveness



early 15c., from Old French distinctif and directly from Medieval Latin distinctivus, from Latin distinct-, past participle of distinguere (see distinguish). Meaning "markedly individual" is from 1580s. Related: Distinctively; distinctiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper