Definite or Definitive?

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Definite or Definitive?

What is the difference between "definite" and "definitive"?
  • "Definite" means "known for certain" or "precise." For example:
    • This is not fool's gold. It is definite gold.
    • (The adverb form "definitely" is more common than the adjective form "definite.")
    • We have definitely found gold.
  • "Definitive" means "conclusive" or "authoritative." For example:
    • This is the definitive diagnosis from the panel of specialists.
definite or definitive?

More about "Definite" and "Definitive"

Writers sometimes confuse "definite" and "definitive" because their meanings are close and they look similar. However, there is a clear distinction between the two words.


The adjective "definite" means "known for certain" or "precise."

Example sentences with "definite":
  • Is it definite that the plane has left?
  • I can't make sense of your invoices. I need to know the definite amount.
  • I had a natural aptitude for wanting to be the centre of attention and a definite skill for annoying people. (Illusionist Derren Brown)


The adjective "definitive" means "conclusive" or "authoritative."

Example sentences with "definitive":
  • This is the definitive paper on the company's holdings.
  • Was that the judge's definitive verdict?
  • A writer's definitive death is when no one reads his books anymore. That's the final death. (Writer Jose Saramago)
Definitely Not "Definate"

There is no such word as "definate" (with an "a"), which is a common misspelling of "definite." "Definately" does not exist either.
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See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are adjectives? What are verbs? List of easily confused words