a. Clearly defined; explicitly precise: a definite statement of the terms of the will. See Synonyms at explicit.
b. Forthright and unambiguous: The doctor was very definite about what foods you should avoid.
2. Clearly developed or firmly decided: no definite idea of what to do for a career.
3. Readily distinguished or certain: at a definite disadvantage.
4. Grammar Limiting or particularizing.
a. Of a fixed number usually less than 20, as certain floral organs, especially stamens.
b. Cymose; determinate.
[Middle English diffinite, defined, from Latin dēfīnītus, past participle of dēfīnīre, to define; see DEFINE.]
Usage Note: Definite and definitive both apply to what is precisely defined or explicitly set forth. But definitive most often refers specifically to a judgment or description that serves as a standard or reference point for others, as in the definitive decision of the court (which sets forth a final resolution of a judicial matter) or the definitive biography of Nelson (that is, the biography that sets the standard against which all other accounts of Nelson's life must be measured).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.