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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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Robert was restive under her uncanny questionings, but answered that he wasn't quite sure about the future.

    The Brightener C. N. Williamson
  • Under all these restrictions the colonies were not as yet restive.

    The Siege of Boston Allen French
  • Some, however, who were restive under the Mexican yoke, were not unwilling to exchange masters.

    Hernando Cortez John S. C. Abbott
  • Underneath it every horse was restive and every voice had an edge.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • Inquiring of the nurse as to the patient who had been so restive, I learned that he had neither moved nor spoken.

    Memories Fannie A. (Mrs.) Beers
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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