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 associative (audio) , -​sē-​ , -​shə-​ˈti-​ \ noun

Examples of associative in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Berninger talk-sings throughout his solo record, narrating free-associative thoughts from the nostalgic corner of his brain. Washington Post, "Matt Berninger, king of melancholy music, is doing just fine," 14 Oct. 2020 College campuses are, by their nature, thick with meaning, intentional, accidental, associative and uncanny. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, "A powerful new memorial to U-Va.’s enslaved workers reclaims lost lives and forgotten narratives," 13 Aug. 2020 The human brain is already extremely capable of synthesizing high-level information and thinking in associative, abstract ways that bring forth new ideas. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "This Robot Did 700 Chemistry Experiments in Just 8 Days," 9 July 2020 Ultimately, associative freedom is critical because groups and associations are the very building blocks of society. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "The Willful Blindness of Reactionary Liberalism," 6 July 2020 Occasional musical interludes interrupt the movie’s associative rhythms, including a song-and-dance routine set against the gorgeous Aurès mountains and shot with dynamic, careening camerawork by David Chambille. Devika Girish, New York Times, "‘Until the Birds Return’ Review: Algerian Life, and Nothing More," 30 Apr. 2020 Ultimately, Muldoon’s writing is more rooted on the page, where its coy references and ludic associative leaps can be contemplated slowly. Maya Phillips, New York Times, "‘Incantata’ Review: An Elegy in Words, Video and Potatoes," 3 Mar. 2020 Unlike Hemingway, who responded to chaos by carving out clean, simple sentences, Dos Passos portrays his inner life as raw, messy, and ambivalently associative. Matt Hanson, The New Yorker, "What John Dos Passos’s “1919” Got Right About 2019," 29 Dec. 2019 But a rhythm asserts itself and a structure, musical and associative. Parul Sehgal, New York Times, "A Thousand-Page Novel — Made Up of Mostly One Sentence — Captures How We Think Now," 3 Sep. 2019

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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The first known use of associative was in 1801

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Cite this Entry

“Associative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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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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