When two people each have something of their own, it's their respective thing. In a boxing match, the opponents each start in their respective or individual corners.

Respective comes from the Latin respectivus meaning "having regard for." Everyone has regard for what's respectively theirs. We have respective opinions, respective responsibilities, respective anxieties. It's basically another word for individual. Each of a set of twins probably has his respective bed, even though they might share a bedroom together.

Definitions of respective
  1. adjective
    considered individually
    “the respective club members”
    synonyms: several, various
    individual, single
    being or characteristic of a single thing or person
Commonly confused words

respectfully / respectively

If you kiss the mob boss’s ring, do it respectfully, or full of respect and admiration. But respectively means “in the order given,” so if you have to kiss up to the rest of the mob, make sure to shake hands and high five Jimmy Rags and Tommy Two Face, respectively because Jimmy prefers a handshake, but Tommy loves a good high five.

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