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fictive

[ fik-tiv ]
/ ˈfɪk tɪv /
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adjective
fictitious; imaginary.
pertaining to the creation of fiction: fictive inventiveness.
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Origin of fictive

First recorded in 1485–95; fict(ion) + -ive

OTHER WORDS FROM fictive

fic·tive·ly, adverbnon·fic·tive, adjectivenon·fic·tive·ly, adverb

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH fictive

fictional, fictitious, fictive
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

FICTIVE VS. FICTIONAL VS. FICTITIOUS

What’s the difference between fictive, fictional, and fictitious?

Fictive is an uncommonly used word that means imaginary or relating to or capable of creating fiction, as in a fictive imagination. Fictional means invented as part of a work of fiction, as in Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective or This account is entirely fictional—it’s not based on a true story. Fictitious most commonly means false or made up, as in I signed in with a fictitious name to hide my identity.

Confusingly, their meanings can overlap—fictive can sometimes mean the same thing as fictitious, and fictitious can sometimes mean the same thing as fictional. It can be tough to remember which word is the right one to use since all three are adjectives that are used in contexts involving things that are imagined or made up.

Still, they are usually used in pretty specific ways. Fictional is almost always applied to stories and characters that are part of creative works, like books and movies, whereas fictitious is most commonly used in the context of things that are made up to conceal something or deceive someone in real life. Fictitious can usually be replaced with the word fake—this is not the case for fictional.

Here’s an example of fictive, fictional, and fictitious used correctly in the same sentence.

Example: Instead of using fictitious names that no one would notice, his aliases were the names of fictional characters, like Clark Kent and Peter Parker—you would think a con artist would have a more fictive imagination.

Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between fictive, fictional, and fictitious.

Quiz yourself on fictive vs. fictional vs. fictitious!

Should fictive, fictional, or fictitious be used in the following sentence?

The characters in this film are purely _____—any resemblance to real persons is entirely coincidental.

How to use fictive in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for fictive

fictive
/ (ˈfɪktɪv) /

adjective
of, relating to, or able to create fiction
a rare word for fictitious

Derived forms of fictive

fictively, adverb
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
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