View synonyms for permissive


[ per-mis-iv ]


  1. habitually or characteristically accepting or tolerant of something, as social behavior or linguistic usage, that others might disapprove or forbid.

    Synonyms: lax, lenient, indulgent

  2. granting or denoting permission:

    a permissive nod.

  3. left to one's choice; not mandatory:

    This legislation is permissive and merely authorizes counties to levy a tax if in the county's best interest.

  4. Genetics. (of a cell) permitting replication of a strand of DNA that could be lethal, as a viral segment or mutant gene.


/ pəˈmɪsɪv /


  1. tolerant; lenient

    permissive parents

  2. indulgent in matters of sex

    a permissive society

  3. granting permission
  4. archaic.
    not obligatory

Discover More

Derived Forms

  • perˈmissiveness, noun
  • perˈmissively, adverb

Discover More

Other Words From

  • per·mis·sive·ly adverb
  • per·mis·sive·ness noun
  • non·per·mis·sive adjective
  • non·per·mis·sive·ly adverb
  • un·per·mis·sive adjective

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of permissive1

First recorded in 1425–75; late Middle English, from Middle French permissif “granting permission”; permission, -ive

Discover More

Example Sentences

Kaminsky has pointed out that he did not write the law, and favored a less permissive version.

Compared to other countries — including places like Japan, Singapore, Germany — we can afford to be more permissive.

Science actually requires a permissive attitude to published claims in order to do its job of discovering important truths.

In the US, some traveled across state lines to take advantage of more permissive eligibility criteria in neighboring states.

For instance, the guidelines could become more permissive as vaccination becomes more widespread and cases continue to fall.

Edward and Alexandra were the most permissive royal parents.

The program is medically based, not permissive as in states like Colorado that are experiencing the consequences of legalization.

Just as important, however, is a permissive external environment.

In 2008, Mark Krikorian published an important new book arguing against permissive immigration.

With every other drug, attitudes today are less permissive today than they were a generation ago.

It would be better to give them all charters of incorporation; but still he would make that permissive.

It contained a permissive clause which allowed of the formation of companies to control the spirit-sale in towns.

Though they seldom come out of their houses, except under permissive sanction, yet their stock of gossip is almost inexhaustible.

The Mosaic provision had been but permissive, and was justified only because of existing unrighteousness.

Calvin never said anything harsher; and all that can only be excused if it is to be understood of a permissive will.


Related Words