See more synonyms for restrictive on
  1. tending or serving to restrict.
  2. of the nature of a restriction.
  3. expressing or implying restriction or limitation of application, as terms, expressions, etc.
  4. Grammar. limiting the meaning of a modified element: a restrictive adjective.Compare descriptive(def 2b).

Origin of restrictive

1375–1425; late Middle English < Middle French restrictif < Latin restrict(us) (see restrict) + Middle French -if -ive
Related formsre·stric·tive·ly, adverbre·stric·tive·ness, nounun·re·stric·tive, adjectiveun·re·stric·tive·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for restrictive

Contemporary Examples of restrictive

Historical Examples of restrictive

  • Undoubtedly these restrictive laws had their effect upon the temper of the people.

  • A restrictive clause is not separated by a comma from the noun.

    The Verbalist

    Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)

  • The relative should be restrictive: 'that I was a witness of.'

    The Verbalist

    Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)

  • But this is the restrictive or prohibitory system in its simplest form.

  • Nor can it be denied that, as a whole, this restrictive code was successful.

British Dictionary definitions for restrictive


  1. restricting or tending to restrict
  2. grammar denoting a relative clause or phrase that restricts the number of possible referents of its antecedent. The relative clause in Americans who live in New York is restrictive; the relative clause in Americans, who are generally extrovert, is nonrestrictive
Derived Formsrestrictively, adverbrestrictiveness, 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 restrictive

early 15c., "serving to bind or draw together," from Middle French restrictif, from Late Latin restrictivus, from Latin restrict-, past participle stem of restringere (see restriction). Meaning "imposing restriction" is from 1570s. Related: Restrictively; restrictiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper