Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

Definite and Definitive

The Quick Answer
What is the difference between definite and definitive?

Definite means known for certain.
Definitive means conclusive.

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.

Definite

The adjective definite means known for certain or precise.

Examples:
  • Is it definite that the plane has left?
  • I can't make sense of your invoices. I need to know the definite amount.

Definitive

The adjective definitive means conclusive or authoritative

Examples:
  • This is the definitive paper on the company's holdings.
  • Was that the judge's definitive verdict?
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Beware

Definitely Not Definate

There is no such word as definate, which is a very common misspelling of definite. Definately does not exist either.