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[dih-stingk-tiv] /dɪˈstɪŋk tɪv/
serving to distinguish; characteristic; distinguishing:
the distinctive stripes of the zebra.
having a special quality, style, attractiveness, etc.; notable.
Origin of distinctive
1575-85; < Medieval Latin distinctīvus, equivalent to Latin distinct(us) distinct + -īvus -ive
Related forms
distinctively, adverb
distinctiveness, noun
subdistinctive, adjective
subdistinctively, adverb
subdistinctiveness, noun
Can be confused
1. individual. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for distinctiveness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Manning had what has been called "the ambition of distinctiveness."

    Collections and Recollections George William Erskine Russell
  • Christians:asserting their distinctiveness, 271 ff.trying to conquer the Spirit, 122 ff.

    The Ego and His Own Max Stirner
  • No definition of Secularism shows its distinctiveness which omits to specify material means as its method of procedure.

    English Secularism George Jacob Holyoake
  • What was gained in distinctness might have been lost in distinctiveness, and after all he did technically put us upon our guard.

  • According to this view, the value of a title lies, not in its appropriateness to the subject-matter, but in its distinctiveness.

    Birds of the Plains Douglas Dewar
British Dictionary definitions for distinctiveness


serving or tending to distinguish
denoting one of a set of minimal features of a phoneme in a given language that serve to distinguish it from other phonemes. The distinctive features of /p/ in English are that it is voiceless, bilabial, non-nasal, and plosive; /b/ is voiced, bilabial, non-nasal, and plosive: the two differ by the distinctive feature of voice
Derived Forms
distinctively, adverb
distinctiveness, 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
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Word Origin and History for distinctiveness



early 15c., from Old French distinctif and directly from Medieval Latin distinctivus, from Latin distinct-, past participle of distinguere (see distinguish). Meaning "markedly individual" is from 1580s. Related: Distinctively; distinctiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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