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  1. a person or thing that represents another or others.
  2. an agent or deputy: a legal representative.
  3. a person who represents a constituency or community in a legislative body, especially a member of the U.S. House of Representatives or a lower house in certain state legislatures.
  4. a typical example or specimen of a group, quality, or kind.
  1. serving to represent; representing.
  2. standing or acting for another or others.
  3. made up of representatives: a representative assembly.
  4. Government. of or relating to a system of governance by chosen representatives, usually elected from among a large group, as in representative democracy; representative government.
  5. exemplifying a group or kind; typical: a representative selection of Elizabethan plays.
  6. corresponding to or replacing some other species or the like, as in a different locality.
  7. of, relating to, or characteristic of representationalism.
  8. pertaining to or of the nature of a mental image or representation.

Origin of representative

1350–1400; Middle English (adj.) < Medieval Latin repraesentātīvus, equivalent to repraesentāt(us) (see representation) + -īvus -ive
Related formsrep·re·sent·a·tive·ly, adverbrep·re·sent·a·tive·ness, nounnon·rep·re·sent·a·tive, noun, adjectivenon·rep·re·sent·a·tive·ly, adverbnon·rep·re·sent·a·tive·ness, nouno·ver·rep·re·sent·a·tive, adjectiveo·ver·rep·re·sent·a·tive·ly, adverbo·ver·rep·re·sent·a·tive·ness, nounun·rep·re·sent·a·tive, adjectiveun·rep·re·sent·a·tive·ly, adverbun·rep·re·sent·a·tive·ness, noun

Synonyms for representative

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

Examples from the Web for representative

Contemporary Examples of representative

Historical Examples of representative

British Dictionary definitions for representative


  1. a person or thing that represents another or others
  2. a person who represents and tries to sell the products or services of a firm, esp a travelling salesmanOften shortened to: rep
  3. a typical example
  4. a person representing a constituency in a deliberative, legislative, or executive body, esp (capital) a member of the House of Representatives (the lower house of Congress)See also House of Representatives
  5. NZ a rugby player, football player, etc, chosen to represent a province in interprovincial sports
  1. serving to represent; symbolic
    1. exemplifying a class or kind; typicala representative example of the species
    2. containing or including examples of all the interests, types, etc, in a groupa representative collection
  2. acting as deputy or proxy for another or others
  3. acting for or representing a constituency or the whole people in the process of governmenta representative council
  4. of, characterized by, or relating to the political principle of representation of the peoplerepresentative government
  5. of or relating to a mental picture or representation
Derived Formsrepresentatively, adverbrepresentativeness, 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 representative

"serving to represent," late 14c., from Old French representatif (early 14c.), from Medieval Latin repraesentativus, from stem of Latin repraesentare (see represent). Meaning "standing for others" is from 1620s; in the political sense of "holding the place of the people in the government, having citizens represented by chosen persons" is first recorded 1620s. Meaning "pertaining to or founded on representation of the people" is from 1640s.


1640s, "example, type," from representative (adj.); 1690s in sense of "member of a legislative body."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper