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[si-lek-tiv] /sɪˈlɛk tɪv/
having the function or power of selecting; making a selection.
characterized by selection, especially fastidious selection.
of or relating to selection.
Electricity, Radio. having good selectivity.
Origin of selective
1615-25; select + -ive
Related forms
selectively, adverb
selectiveness, noun
nonselective, adjective
unselective, adjective
2. discriminating, particular, discerning. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for selective
  • For thousands of years humans have changed dogs' looks through selective breeding.
  • selective cutting is the norm, rather than clear-cutting.
  • Many of the stories did not fare too well, and would not have got their authors into a selective university.
  • My believe is that the only way that these panels will drop in price is in the design and selective use of materials.
  • So selective and demanding is the process that virtually every teacher is well prepared.
  • It may be objected that the outcome could have reflected selective breeding rather than family stability.
  • So financial sponsors have to be a lot more selective.
  • selective focus creates the illusion that the subject is a miniature.
  • There is other medicine to try that are selective blockers of inflammation.
  • And a new paper suggests that at highly selective colleges, they may count even more than was previously thought.
British Dictionary definitions for selective


of or characterized by selection
tending to choose carefully or characterized by careful choice
(electronics) occurring at, operating at, or capable of separating out a particular frequency or band of frequencies
Derived Forms
selectively, adverb
selectiveness, 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 selective

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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