Definition of constructive in US English:



  • 1Serving a useful purpose; tending to build up.

    ‘constructive criticism’
    • ‘Gendering transport history offers a full, useful and constructive tool of analysis.’
    • ‘I think that parents should work with schools in a constructive partnership to benefit all parties.’
    • ‘I told him he needed to be supportive and indulge me in some positive constructive advice.’
    • ‘He said it was a useful and constructive meeting following on from the previous meeting.’
    • ‘At the same time, impeding the efforts of soldiers at war serves no constructive purpose.’
    • ‘I'd like someone to come up with a van, haul them off and put them to constructive purpose.’
    • ‘Plus she's a regular reviewer with some grand advice and constructive criticism.’
    • ‘Go to work for the day, lose yourself in something constructive, the benefits outweigh the negatives.’
    • ‘Any advice and/or constructive criticism is welcome, as always.’
    • ‘The question which now must be asked of Teagasc is what constructive purpose do these reports serve.’
    • ‘Authors might rate reviews as useful, creative, constructive, or crucial to their paper.’
    • ‘Most of the comments here are delightfully informative, useful or otherwise constructive, and I'm happy to keep it that way!’
    • ‘They must try to profit from experience and constructive advice.’
    • ‘Suppose, further, that she attempts to use bulldozers for constructive purposes.’
    • ‘If so, I am opening up myself to constructive criticism or helpful comments.’
    • ‘Generally speaking, I find the critique to be constructive and useful though largely misguided.’
    • ‘Comments, advice, suggestions or constructive criticism are especially welcome.’
    • ‘Keeping a murderer in prison costs upwards of £25,000 a year which could be better used for constructive purposes.’
    • ‘Oh, and thank you for all the advice, I love constructive criticism.’
    • ‘The trouble with such sites is that it is just as easy for someone vandalise their pages as it is for someone to add something useful or constructive.’
    positive, useful, of use, helpful, encouraging
    View synonyms
  • 2Law
    Derived by inference; implied by operation of law; not obvious or explicit.

    ‘constructive liability’
    • ‘Further, the composition of liability as a constructive trustee is wider than a tracing order in equity.’
    • ‘It should be noted that constructive manslaughter requires the commission of an unlawful act.’
    • ‘Traditionally there has been a reluctance to use a driving offence as the unlawful act in constructive manslaughter.’
    • ‘The fault requirement for the offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm reveals that it is an offence of constructive liability.’
    • ‘The claim to a trust is a claim to a remedial and not an institutional constructive trust and the limitation period is again 6 years.’
  • 3Mathematics
    Relating to, based on, or denoting mathematical proofs which show how an entity may in principle be constructed or arrived at in a finite number of steps.

    • ‘His main work was on the constructive theory of functions and approximation theory.’
    • ‘His repudiation of excluded middle flows from his constructive conception of mathematics.’
    • ‘His criticism was built on the fact that he believed only in constructive mathematics.’
    • ‘He made a good start to solving this problem for n = 2 when he found a constructive proof of a finite basis for binary forms.’
    • ‘He is perhaps best known, however, as one of the founders of the constructive approach to contemporary mathematics.’


Mid 17th century (in constructive (sense 2)): from late Latin constructivus, from Latin construct- ‘heap together’, from the verb construere (see construct).