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See more synonyms for retentive on Thesaurus.com
  1. tending or serving to retain something.
  2. having power or capacity to retain.
  3. having power or ability to remember; having a good memory.
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Origin of retentive

1325–75; Middle English retentif < Middle French < Medieval Latin retentīvus, equivalent to Latin retent(us) (see retention) + -īvus -ive
Related formsre·ten·tive·ly, adverbre·ten·tive·ness, nounnon·re·ten·tive, adjectivenon·re·ten·tive·ly, adverbnon·re·ten·tive·ness, nounun·re·ten·tive, adjectiveun·re·ten·tive·ly, adverbun·re·ten·tive·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for retentive

stubborn, dogged, steadfast, tough, resolute, forceful, persistent, strong-willed, unswerving, determined, stout, spunky, staunch, relentless, cohesive, dry, absorptive, retentive, penetrable, permeable

Examples from the Web for retentive

Historical Examples of retentive

  • There lie the impressions on the retentive organ, though you knew it not.

    Essays, First Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • No cunningly painted canvas is so retentive as the active brain.

    Aztec Land

    Maturin M. Ballou

  • The last are frequently overrated, the memory more quick than retentive.

  • What a wonderfully active and retentive mind that gifted child must have!

    Story of My Life

    Helen Keller

  • This will give you an idea of the retentive memory she possesses.

    Story of My Life

    Helen Keller

British Dictionary definitions for retentive


  1. having the capacity to retain or remember
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Derived Formsretentively, adverbretentiveness, 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 retentive


late 14c., "able to hold or keep" (mental or physical), from Old French retentif, from Medieval Latin retentivus, from past participle stem of Latin retinere (see retain). Related: Retentively; retentiveness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper