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Definite vs Definitive


  • ‘Definite’ (adj) means ‘unambiguous, certain, or clearly defined’.
  • ‘Definitive’ (adj) means ‘conclusive, final, or authoritative’.

What’s the difference between ‘definite’ and ‘definitive’?

Because of their similarity in form, these two words are frequently confused (including in academic texts!). They also have meanings that may appear similar, and can be used with the same nouns (e.g. conclusions or statements). But it’s important to understand the subtle difference in meaning. For example, something that is definite is not necessarily definitive. And describing something as ‘definitive’ doesn’t say anything about its clarity.

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How they’re used

Example sentences with ‘definite’

  • Based on their results, the authors could not provide definite answers.
  • His ingrained skepticism meant he never held definite ideas on the subject.

Example sentences with ‘definitive’

  • The report includes a definitive guide to the Cortex-M3 processor.
  • A definitive collection of his poems was published in 1995.