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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 restiveness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Its ancestors in the sixteenth were notorious for their restiveness.

  • Her restiveness is absolutely alluring, and excites all my hunting instinct.

    Man and Maid Elinor Glyn
  • These things explain the restiveness of the country, including central as well as southern provinces, under Peking domination.

  • He paused, then added, "I think it's just as well to walk off my restiveness if I can."

    The Tyranny of Weakness Charles Neville Buck
  • Fiorsen's passion for the sea, a passion Gyp could share, kept him singularly moderate and free from restiveness.

    Beyond John Galsworthy
  • Lady Cantire (perceiving that the Bishop is showing signs of restiveness).

    Lyre and Lancet F. Anstey
  • This restiveness and impracticability are principally incident to us in the period of youth.

    Thoughts on Man William Godwin
  • By the restiveness of woman under the tutelage of man may he measure his own short-comings.

    A New Atmosphere Gail Hamilton
  • Later the stupor became persistent and during this stage she had catalepsy (and restiveness as well) in her left arm only.

    Benign Stupors August Hoch
British Dictionary definitions for restiveness


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 restiveness



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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