Definition of constative in English:


Pronunciation /kənˈsteɪtɪv//ˈkɒnstətɪv/


  • Denoting a speech act or sentence that is a statement declaring something to be the case.

    ‘a constative sentence’
    Often contrasted with performative
    • ‘In a fundamental conflict between constative force and performative possibility, the assuring parataxis itself begins to serve as a resistant marker of performatives that potentially contradict its simple narrative.’
    • ‘In these terms, his intention may be constative, but it has performative effect, not to mention performative desire.’
    • ‘The argument that the act of stating or describing is in fact performative must take the form of constative statements.’
    • ‘Performative criticism begins in the gap between constative sense and dramatic consequences.’
    • ‘The photographs are evidence; their constative force, according to him, authenticates the existence of places witnessed firsthand from specific points of view and times of day.’


  • A constative speech act or sentence.

    ‘constatives present a true or false account of the facts of the case’
    • ‘While explicitly posing the question of whether the performance of this ethical language can ever be free of the constative (the language of ontology), his own performance of the ethics of reading is impressive indeed.’
    • ‘His speech act, ‘I confess to stealing the ribbon,’ is at once a constative (it describes something) and a performative (it does something, it produces the scene of guilt).’
    • ‘The tension between the performative and constative emerges clearly also in literature, where the difficulty she encounters of separating performative and constative can be seen as a crucial feature of the functioning of language.’


Early 20th century: from Latin constat- ‘established’ (from the verb constare) + -ive.