Meaning of “decisive” in the English Dictionary

"decisive" in British English

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uk /dɪˈsaɪ.sɪv/ us /dɪˈsaɪ.sɪv/

B2 able to make decisions quickly and confidently, or showing this quality:

You need to be more decisive.
a decisive reply

C1 strongly affecting how a situation will progress or end:

These results could prove decisive in establishing the criminal's identity.
a decisive role
a decisive victory

More examples

  • This decisive defeat puts them out of contention for this year's championship finals.
  • The economy is regarded as the decisive factor which will determine the outcome of the general election.
  • Unless decisive action is taken to combat the disease, the death toll will continue to rise.
  • Gettysburg is the site of the last and most decisive battle of the Civil War.
  • Australia won the decisive fifth match by 47 runs, to take an eventful and exciting series 3-2.
adverb uk /dɪˈsaɪ.sɪ us /dɪˈsaɪ.sɪ


If we had acted earlier and more decisively (= more quickly and effectively) it might not have come to this.
noun [ U ] uk /dɪˈsaɪ.sɪv.nəs/ us /dɪˈsaɪ.sɪv.nəs/

(Definition of “decisive” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"decisive" in American English

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us /dɪˈsɑɪ·sɪv/

making choices quickly and surely, without having any doubts:

In an emergency, decisive action is called for.

Decisive also means without doubt or question, and of the greatest importance:

DNA test results were decisive in proving his innocence.
adverb us /dɪˈsɑɪ·sɪv·li/

We had to act quickly and decisively to put out the fire.

(Definition of “decisive” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)