pertaining individually or severally to each of a number of persons, things, etc.; particular: I will now discuss the respective merits of the candidates.

Origin of respective

1515–25; < Medieval Latin respectīvus, equivalent to Latin respect(us) (see respect) + -īvus -ive
Related formsre·spec·tive·ness, noun

Synonyms for respective

Antonyms for respective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for respective

Contemporary Examples of respective

Historical Examples of respective

  • For many years he and Mr. Gladstone had been at the head of their respective parties.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • The troops reached their respective camps at about 11 o'clock.

  • We were all dressed in white, with the respective colours of our various classes.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • Moreover, his feelings were hurt by the disproportion of their respective ages.

  • Hoche, Humbert, and Pichegru, began their respective careers as private soldiers.


    Samuel Smiles

British Dictionary definitions for respective



belonging or relating separately to each of several people or things; severalwe took our respective ways home
an archaic word for respectful
Derived Formsrespectiveness, 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 respective

mid-15c., "regardful, observing or noting with attention," from Medieval Latin respectivus "having regard for," from Latin respect- past participle stem of respicere (see respect (n.)). Meaning "relating or pertaining severally each to each" is from 1640s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper