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

Origin of permissive

1425–75; late Middle English; see permission, -ive; compare French permissif
Related formsper·mis·sive·ly, adverbper·mis·sive·ness, nounnon·per·mis·sive, adjectivenon·per·mis·sive·ly, adverbnon·per·mis·sive·ness, nounun·per·mis·sive, adjective

Synonyms for permissive

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for permissiveness

Contemporary Examples of permissiveness

Historical Examples of permissiveness

British Dictionary definitions for permissiveness


  1. tolerant; lenientpermissive parents
  2. indulgent in matters of sexa permissive society
  3. granting permission
  4. 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 permissiveness



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