[ per-mis-iv ]
/ pərˈmɪs ɪv /


habitually or characteristically accepting or tolerant of something, as social behavior or linguistic usage, that others might disapprove or forbid.
granting or denoting permission: a permissive nod.
Genetics. (of a cell) permitting replication of a strand of DNA that could be lethal, as a viral segment or mutant gene.

Nearby words

  1. permic,
  2. permie,
  3. permillage,
  4. permissible,
  5. permission,
  6. permissively,
  7. permissivism,
  8. permissory,
  9. permit,
  10. permittee

Origin of permissive

1425–75; late Middle English; see permission, -ive; compare French permissif

SYNONYMS FOR permissive
Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for permissively

  • These take thought, at least ostensibly or permissively, for the temporal welfare of the laity, as well as for their own.

British Dictionary definitions for permissively


/ (pəˈmɪsɪv) /


tolerant; lenientpermissive parents
indulgent in matters of sexa permissive society
granting permission
archaic not obligatory
Derived Formspermissively, adverbpermissiveness, 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 permissively



c.1600, "allowing to pass through," from Old French permissif, from Latin permiss-, past participle stem of permittere "to let go, let pass, let loose" (see permit (v.)). In sense of "tolerant, liberal" it is first recorded 1956; by 1966 it had definite overtones of sexual freedom. Earlier it meant "permitted, allowed" (early 15c.). Related: Permissively; permissiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper