• synonyms


  1. full of expression; meaningful: an expressive shrug.
  2. serving to express; indicative of power to express: a look expressive of gratitude.
  3. of, relating to, or concerned with expression: Dance is a highly expressive art.
  4. Sociology. (of a crowd or group) engaging in nonpurposeful activity of an expressive and often rhythmic nature, as weeping, dancing, or shouting.Compare active(def 15), orgiastic(def 2).
  5. Linguistics. of or relating to forms in which sounds denote a semantic field directly and nonarbitrarily, through sound symbolism based, to some degree, on synesthesia, as observable in onomatopoeia, rhyming and gradational compounds, and emotionally charged words such as hypocoristics and pejoratives.
Show More

Origin of expressive

1350–1400; Middle English < Middle French; see express, -ive
Related formsex·pres·sive·ly, adverbex·pres·sive·ness, nounan·ti·ex·pres·sive, adjectivean·ti·ex·pres·sive·ly, adverban·ti·ex·pres·sive·ness, nounnon·ex·pres·sive, adjectivenon·ex·pres·sive·ly, adverbnon·ex·pres·sive·ness, nouno·ver·ex·pres·sive, adjectiveo·ver·ex·pres·sive·ly, adverbo·ver·ex·pres·sive·ness, nounpre·ex·pres·sive, adjectivesu·per·ex·pres·sive, adjectivesu·per·ex·pres·sive·ly, adverbsu·per·ex·pres·sive·ness, noun

Synonyms for expressive

1, 2. Expressive, meaningful, significant, suggestive imply the conveying of a thought, indicating an attitude of mind, or the like, by words or otherwise. Expressive suggests conveying, or being capable of conveying, a thought, intention, emotion, etc., in an effective or vivid manner: an expressive gesture. Meaningful and significant imply an underlying and unexpressed thought whose existence is plainly shown although its precise nature is left to conjecture. Meaningful implies a secret and intimate understanding between the persons involved: Meaningful looks passed between them. Significant suggests conveying important or hidden meaning: On hearing this statement, he gave the officers a significant glance. Suggestive implies an indirect or covert conveying of a meaning, sometimes mentally stimulating, sometimes verging on impropriety or indecency: a suggestive story or remark. See also eloquent.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for over-expressive


  1. of, involving, or full of expression
  2. (postpositive foll by of) indicative or suggestive (of)a look expressive of love
  3. having a particular meaning, feeling, or force; significant
Show More
Derived Formsexpressively, adverbexpressiveness, 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 over-expressive



c.1400, "tending to press out," from French expressif, from expres "clear, plain," from stem of Latin exprimere (see express (v.)). Meaning "full of expression" is from 1680s. Related: Expressively; expressiveness.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper