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[res-tiv] /ˈrɛs tɪv/
impatient of control, restraint, or delay, as persons; restless; uneasy.
refractory; stubborn.
refusing to go forward; balky:
a restive horse.
Origin of restive
late Middle English
1375-1425; rest2 + -ive; replacing late Middle English restif stationary, balking < Old French: inert
Related forms
restively, adverb
restiveness, noun
Can be confused
restful, restive.
1. nervous, unquiet. 2. recalcitrant, disobedient, obstinate.
1. patient, quiet. 2. obedient, tractable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for restive
  • The logic doesn't fly, and it has given rise to an increasingly restive adjunct population.
  • Sometimes they are built to keep restive populations from fleeing.
  • Notoriously restive motorcycle taxi drivers were paid off to deter gang violence.
  • Where the former film is agonized and sullen, the latter is mischievous and restive, daring us to be dismayed by its insolence.
  • Much of the citizenry has become more restive-less accepting of the way things are.
  • restive followers have been pushing for a new owner, and some have called on sponsors to intervene.
  • Soon after it first appeared last spring, city fathers grew restive.
  • Of specific interest is the use of music in the evening, which may contribute to the achievement of restive sleep.
  • The organic semiconductor is undoped and highly restive.
  • When finished, it will be a quiet, restive place where visitors can enjoy newly restored native plants and trees.
British Dictionary definitions for restive


restless, nervous, or uneasy
impatient of control or authority
Derived Forms
restively, adverb
restiveness, noun
Word Origin
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
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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
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