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)

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 Farrar, Straus & Giroux), demonstrates that, regardless of whether Handke labels a work fiction or nonfiction, his technique remains much the same—the tone discursive, the narratives eddying and associative, the point of view inward and subjective. Ruth Franklin, The New Yorker, 14 Mar. 2022 Fraser and his colleagues saw an opportunity to get around that anatomical limitation and learn more about associative memory formation by using zebra fish. Quanta Magazine, 3 Mar. 2022 Harris’s surrealistic, cartoonish methods are as exuberant and freewheelingly associative as Douglas is—and the film’s hyperbolic absurdities reflect the unredressed absurdities of American racial politics. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 22 Sep. 2021 Since then, many more studies have tested the relationship between dreams and learning, including a recent effort by Nielsen to use associative sounds to trigger dreams about a specific task. New York Times, 3 Nov. 2021 Literal-minded viewers take warning, but the associative looseness hums on a different — and potent — frequency. Charles Bramesco, Vulture, 21 Oct. 2021 The book intersperses a selection of Yu’s poems with her essays, arranged in an associative flow that shifts back and forth in time. Washington Post, 29 Sep. 2021 The tone of Harris’s devastatingly analytical drama is frenetically comedic, and his surrealistic methods are as exuberant and associative as the film’s main character. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 22 Sep. 2021 Moreover, the function used to map from one group to another also must preserve the group operations and properties (such as the associative law of addition). Quanta Magazine, 10 Aug. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of associative

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for associative

Time Traveler

The first known use of associative was in 1801

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Dictionary Entries Near associative

association test


associative anamnesis

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Last Updated

23 Mar 2022

Cite this Entry

“Associative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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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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