as·​so·​cia·​tive | \ ə-ˈsō-shē-ˌā-tiv How to pronounce associative (audio) , -sē-, -shə-tiv How to pronounce associative (audio) \

Definition of associative

1 : of or relating to association especially of ideas or images
2 : dependent on or acquired by association or learning
3 : of, having, or being the property of combining to the same mathematical result regardless of the grouping of an expression's elements given that the order of those elements is preserved addition is associative since (a + b) + c = a + (b + c)

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Other Words from associative

associatively adverb
associativity \ ə-​ˌsō-​shē-​ə-​ˈti-​və-​tē How to pronounce associativity (audio) , -​sē-​ , -​shə-​ˈti-​ \ noun

Examples of associative in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The president of the United States tweets compulsively in wildly free-associative fashion, several times a day. Nathaniel Friedman, The New Republic, "Moments Without Truth," 21 Oct. 2019 The anterior cingulate cortex’s role is to interpret the demonstrator’s distress and send this signal to the BLA, where associative learning takes place. Dean Mobbs, Scientific American, "On the Nature of Fear," 20 Sep. 2019 The elements of class groups must obey the associative and commutative properties of addition, and must include a zero element, such that zero plus any other element leaves the element unchanged. Kevin Hartnett, Quanta Magazine, "New Number Systems Seek Their Lost Primes," 2 Mar. 2017 Odd Future’s yin-and-yang leaders—were the pioneers of a certain type of genre-agnostic, free-associative music, and Brockhampton is one of its beneficiaries. Carrie Battan, The New Yorker, "Brockhampton Grows Up," 2 Sep. 2019 Berman was generous, even regal, in his free associative poetry, but also fragile. Thomas Beller, Los Angeles Times, "The joys and heartbreak of my 20-year friendship with poet-songwriter David Berman," 12 Aug. 2019 That’s sort of the associative power, the Pavlov’s Dog that the Right has. Time, "Arturo Castro Thought There Weren’t Enough Latino Characters on TV. So He Decided to Play Them All Himself," 11 June 2019 This Gucci collection was as ‘full of little things’ as always, many of them deeply personal—there’s comfort in the familiar, even for a guy as free associative as Alessandro Michele. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "The Top Shows of Milan Fashion Week Fall 2019," 25 Feb. 2019 Cities all have associative colors, says interior designer Sig Bergamin. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Sig Bergamin Wrote the Book on Maximalism, and His New York Apartment Proves It," 20 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'associative.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of associative

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for associative

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The first known use of associative was in 1801

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Last Updated

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Associative.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 10 December 2019.

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More Definitions for associative


as·​so·​cia·​tive | \ ə-ˈsō-shē-ˌā-tiv How to pronounce associative (audio) , -shə-tiv \

Kids Definition of associative

: relating to or being a property of a mathematical operation (as addition or multiplication) in which the result does not depend on how the elements are grouped The associative property of addition states that (2 + 3) + 1 and 2 + (3 + 1) will both have a sum of 6.


as·​so·​cia·​tive | \ ə-ˈsō-s(h)ē-ˌāt-iv How to pronounce associative (audio) , -shət-iv How to pronounce associative (audio) \

Medical Definition of associative

1 : of or relating to association especially of ideas or images an associative symbol
2a : dependent on or characterized by association an associative reaction
b : acquired by a process of learning an associative reflex

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Comments on associative

What made you want to look up associative? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to state or do over again or repeatedly

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