- serving to distinguish; characteristic; distinguishing: the distinctive stripes of the zebra.
- having a special quality, style, attractiveness, etc.; notable.
- serving or tending to distinguish
- denoting one of a set of minimal features of a phoneme in a given language that serve to distinguish it from other phonemes. The distinctive features of /p/ in English are that it is voiceless, bilabial, non-nasal, and plosive; /b/ is voiced, bilabial, non-nasal, and plosive: the two differ by the distinctive feature of voice
early 15c., from Old French distinctif and directly from Medieval Latin distinctivus, from Latin distinct-, past participle of distinguere (see distinguish). Meaning “markedly individual” is from 1580s. Related: Distinctively; distinctiveness.