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Distinct and Distinctive

Commonly Confused Words


The adjective distinct means clearly defined and readily distinguishable from all others. Distinct also means notable or highly probable.

Distinctive means set off by appearances or characteristic of a particular person, place, or thing.


  • "The human species, according to the best theory I can form of it, is composed of two distinct races, the men who borrow and the men who lend." (Charles Lamb)

  • The senator's speech carried the distinct odor of hypocrisy.

  • "A man has his distinctive personal scent which his wife, his children and his dog can recognize. A crowd has a generalized stink. The public is odorless." (W. H. Auden)


a) Merdine is her own woman, with an identity _____ from her mother's.

b) "The _____ character of a child is to always live in the tangible present." (John Ruskin)

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Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

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