Can I use the phrase "definitive edition" to explain that a product has the most up-to-date and highest quality in the field as opposite to mean "last edition of the same series"?

Thank you for your help.

  • 1
    You may fall foul of some advertising standards requirements with 'definitive', but legal advice has to come from legal experts. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 8 '14 at 7:57
  • If the product cannot or need not be changed or improved upon then yes you can describe it as the definitive edition, release, version, model etc. – Joe Dark Oct 26 '14 at 11:20

In Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003), the closest definition of definitive to the one you seem to have in mind is this one:

2 : authoritative and apparently exhaustive (a definitive edition}

But there is something less than definitive about this definition, starting with the weasel word "apparently" in the main definition and exacerbated by the indefinite article preceding "definitive edition" in the example.

In one sense, every marketed version of an operating system (for example) is definitive at the time it is released, in that it is both "authoritative" at the time of its release and "apparently exhaustive"—as far as anyone can tell. But in another sense, the only definitive edition of an operating system is the last one released before it is superseded by an entirely different operating system (as opposed to being replaced by yet another upgrade of the old OS).

Consciousness of this reality has, I think, made consumers rather cynical about claims that something is "a definitive edition of X." Sure it is—for now. But consumers' suspicion that "definitive edition" has become little more than a marketing phrase doesn't mean that the phrase isn't technically accurate as a description of the latest version of a released product. After all, "definitive edition" doesn't promise that the version of the product so designated will be (as you say) the "last edition" in its series; it merely announces that the product is the authoritative and apparently exhaustive version for the moment.

  • Sven Yargs, Thank you so much for your attentive and informative answer. While your answer is convincing and agreeable, I am still curious what others think. – Jun Kyoto Nov 6 '14 at 1:55
  • Upvote. @JunKyoto: There's nothing new other would think. This is the definitive answer. Go ahead and accept it. – Tushar Raj May 24 '15 at 16:07
  • This matches how "definitive edition" of video games is simply one that includes all the DLCs and the content updates to date. I guess this is the definitive answer to this question. Upvoted and favorited. – RexYuan Oct 7 '17 at 17:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.