Expressive



full of ; meaningful:
an expressive shrug.
serving to ; indicative of power to :
a look expressive of gratitude.
of, relating to, or concerned with :
Dance is a highly expressive art.
Sociology. (of a crowd or group) engaging in nonpurposeful activity of an expressive and often rhythmic nature, as weeping, dancing, or shouting.
Compare (def 15), (def 2).
Linguistics. of or relating to forms in which sounds denote a semantic field directly and nonarbitrarily, through sound symbolism based, to some degree, on synesthesia, as observable in onomatopoeia, rhyming and gradational compounds, and emotionally charged words such as hypocoristics and pejoratives.
Contemporary Examples

Bitcoin serves a purpose that is at once expressive and purposeful.
Bitcoin Forever! Nick Gillespie February 26, 2014

But he has since embraced his true nature—weird, provocative, expressive—with confidence.
John Mayer: Artist or Clown? Erin Carlson November 17, 2009

“I run out of [the suite],” Diallo said in basic but expressive English.
DSK Maid Breaks Her Silence John Solomon, Christopher Dickey July 23, 2011

I was shocked to see him, but I knew I could tell the story through his beautiful, expressive eyes.
The Agony of Syria’s Children Jamie Dettmer March 31, 2013

Immigrants can claim the virtues of their different languages—colorful, expressive, carrying a long history of rich culture.
How Gay Liberation Got Marriage Passed in Maryland and Maine Linda Hirshman November 6, 2012

Historical Examples

“Restez tranquilles,” he says to the jeerers, with expressive and emphatic forefinger leveled at the group.
Lippincott’s Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. 15, No. 90, June, 1875 Various

The limbs are heavy, and the face large and expressive of great complacency.
The Western World W.H.G. Kingston

When they learned the manner in which we came by the horse, their countenances were expressive of real sorrow.
Early Western Travels 1748-1846 Various

Beatrice, who had been silent for some time, looked up then with expressive eyes.
Earl Hubert’s Daughter Emily Sarah Holt

His features were well formed, and his large dark eyes were very bright and expressive.
The Freedmen’s Book Lydia Maria Child

adjective
of, involving, or full of expression
(postpositive) foll by of. indicative or suggestive (of): a look expressive of love
having a particular meaning, feeling, or force; significant
adj.

c.1400, “tending to press out,” from French expressif, from expres “clear, plain,” from stem of Latin exprimere (see express (v.)). Meaning “full of expression” is from 1680s. Related: Expressively; expressiveness.

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