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  1. having the function or power of selecting; making a selection.
  2. characterized by selection, especially fastidious selection.
  3. of or relating to selection.
  4. Electricity, Radio. having good selectivity.
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Origin of selective

First recorded in 1615–25; select + -ive
Related formsse·lec·tive·ly, adverbse·lec·tive·ness, nounnon·se·lec·tive, adjectiveun·se·lec·tive, adjective


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

choosy, discriminatory, scrupulous, judicious, careful, fussy, discerning, eclectic, particular, persnickety, picky, select

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British Dictionary definitions for selective


  1. of or characterized by selection
  2. tending to choose carefully or characterized by careful choice
  3. electronics occurring at, operating at, or capable of separating out a particular frequency or band of frequencies
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Derived Formsselectively, adverbselectiveness, 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 selective


1620s; see select (adj.) + -ive. Related: Selectively; selectiveness. Selective service is from 1917, American English.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper