impatient of control, restraint, or delay, as persons; restless; uneasy.
refractory; stubborn.
refusing to go forward; balky: a restive horse.

Origin of restive

1375–1425; rest2 + -ive; replacing late Middle English restif stationary, balking < Old French: inert
Related formsres·tive·ly, adverbres·tive·ness, noun
Can be confusedrestful restive

Synonyms for restive

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

Examples from the Web for restive

Contemporary Examples of restive

Historical Examples of restive

  • The horse was restive, looking over its shoulder at him, not liking what was going on.

  • Under all these restrictions the colonies were not as yet restive.

  • Many of them are nervous and restive, and not easily approached.

  • Underneath it every horse was restive and every voice had an edge.

    The Long Roll

    Mary Johnston

  • He dropped from the omnibus at the park entrance, where he found his restive mare.

    The Lure of the Mask

    Harold MacGrath

British Dictionary definitions for restive



restless, nervous, or uneasy
impatient of control or authority
Derived Formsrestively, adverbrestiveness, noun

Word Origin for restive

C16: from Old French restif balky, from rester to remain
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 restive

early 15c., restyffe "not moving forward," from Middle French restif "motionless, brought to a standstill" (Modern French rétif), from rester "to remain" (see rest (n.2)). Sense of "unmanageable" (1680s) evolved via notion of a horse refusing to go forward.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper