Restive is one of our favorite journalese adjectives. You rarely hear anyone use it in everyday conversation. Restless, yes. Restive, only in print. The classic scenes in 1930s jungle movies would lose something if the explorers said: “The drums! The drums! They’re driving me mad!” “Yes, indeed, the natives are restive tonight.”
What brings this on is the journalese-laden lede of an AP story, May 15, 2018: “MADRID — Lawmakers in Catalonia elected a fervent separatist as the new chief of the restive region Monday, ending a leadership vacuum of more than six months and setting the scene for more confrontations with the Spanish government.” All that’s missing are “rising tensions.”
File under: Everyone is restive these days.