noun Also fix·a·tif [fik-suh-tiv, -teef] /ˈfɪk sə tɪv, -ˌtif/.
  1. a fixative substance, as a gummy liquid sprayed on a drawing to prevent blurring, or a solution for killing, hardening, and preserving material for microscopic study.
  2. Also called fixer. Photography. a chemical substance, as sodium thiosulfate, used to promote fixation.
  3. a substance that retards evaporation, as in the manufacture of perfume.

Origin of fixative

First recorded in 1635–45; fix + -ative
Related formsun·fix·a·tive, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for fixative

Contemporary Examples of fixative

Historical Examples of fixative

British Dictionary definitions for fixative


  1. serving or tending to fix
  1. a fluid usually consisting of a transparent resin, such as shellac, dissolved in alcohol and sprayed over drawings to prevent smudging
  2. cytology a fluid, such as formaldehyde or ethanol, that fixes tissues and cells for microscopic study
  3. a substance added to a liquid, such as a perfume, to make it less volatile
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 fixative

1640s, from fix (v.) + -ative, suffix meaning "of or related to; tending to." As a noun, from 1870.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

fixative in Medicine


  1. Serving to fix, bind, or make firm or stable.
  1. A substance used for the preservation of tissue or cell specimens.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.