The word constitutive describes an essential part of a whole, especially physical makeup. Without its constitutive engine, steering wheel, and tires, you don’t really have a car; it’s just a box with seats.

Just like a government may be based on its constitution, a whole is based on its constitutive parts. Something that is constitutive may also be necessary for a whole to work correctly. Participate in a 24-hour dance-a-thon, and you’ll likely find your legs are constitutive to your success. Constitutive is one of those words that has both general and scientific uses; you might see other senses of the word in both chemistry and biology books.

Definitions of constitutive
  1. adjective

    constitutional in the structure of something (especially your physical makeup)

    constituent, constitutional, organic


    basic and fundamental

Word Family