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Distinct and Distinctive

Commonly Confused Words

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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.

Examples:

  • "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)

Practice:

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)

Answers to Practice Exercises

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

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