1. characterized by or pertaining to emotion: the emotive and rational capacities of humankind.
  2. productive of or directed toward the emotions: Artistic distortion is often an emotive use of form.

Origin of emotive

First recorded in 1725–35; emot(ion) + -ive
Related formse·mo·tive·ly, adverbe·mo·tive·ness, e·mo·tiv·i·ty [ee-moh-tiv-i-tee, ih-moh-] /ˌi moʊˈtɪv ɪ ti, ɪ moʊ-/, nounhy·per·e·mo·tive, adjectivehy·per·e·mo·tive·ly, adverbhy·per·e·mo·tive·ness, nounhy·per·e·mo·tiv·i·ty, nounnon·e·mo·tive, adjectivenon·e·mo·tive·ly, adverbnon·e·mo·tive·ness, nounun·e·mo·tive, adjectiveun·e·mo·tive·ly, adverbun·e·mo·tive·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for emotively


  1. tending or designed to arouse emotion
  2. of or characterized by emotion
Derived Formsemotively, adverbemotiveness or emotivity, noun


Emotional is preferred to emotive when describing a display of emotion: he was given an emotional (not emotive) welcome
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 emotively



1735, "causing movement," from Latin emot-, past participle stem of emovere (see emotion) + -ive. Meaning "capable of emotion" is from 1881; that of "evoking emotions" is from 1923, originally in literary criticism.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper