aver·​sive ə-ˈvər-siv How to pronounce aversive (audio)
: tending to avoid or causing avoidance of a noxious or punishing stimulus
behavior modification by aversive stimulation
aversively adverb
aversiveness noun

Examples of aversive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web About 15 years ago, reports started coming out that dopamine neurons respond to aversive events – think brief discomforts like a puff of air against your eye, a mild electric shock or losing money – something scientists thought dopamine did not do. Kimberlee D'ardenne, The Conversation, 18 Sep. 2023 But it’s also released by aversive stimuli like stress or pain. Quanta Magazine, 7 Dec. 2023 Trainers should use positive reinforcement, such as rewards with a special treat, rather than aversive methods. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Nov. 2023 In an amicus brief, the American Academy of Pediatrics and five other groups called for an end to the aversive behavioral technique, arguing it has never been considered acceptable medical practice for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). John R. Ellement, BostonGlobe.com, 7 Sep. 2023 The researchers then measured the rats’ aversive responses such as mouth movements, sticking out the tongue or licking paws. Chris Gorski, Discover Magazine, 28 Jan. 2023 Through past experiences with people, dogs could come to view the angry expression as aversive. Julie Hecht, Scientific American, 1 May 2017 It was established, under a different name in neighboring Rhode Island, to take the most difficult cases and use aversive, or negative, consequences to modify behavior — from slaps with paddles to pinches, white noise helmets, and noxious smells like ammonia. NBC News, 28 Apr. 2021 The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has guidelines for professionals who work with dogs and cats, and has explicitly come out against any training methods or tools that utilize aversive techniques. Sassafras Lowrey, Wired, 30 Jan. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'aversive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see averse

First Known Use

1911, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of aversive was in 1911

Dictionary Entries Near aversive

Cite this Entry

“Aversive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aversive. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Medical Definition


1 of 2 adjective
ə-ˈvər-siv, -ziv
: tending to avoid or causing avoidance of a noxious or punishing stimulus
behavior modification by aversive conditioning
aversively adverb
aversiveness noun


2 of 2 noun
: a noxious or punishing stimulus used to suppress an undesirable behavior or habit
Aversives enter the picture because, although many "positive" (nonpunitive) methods for stopping self-injurious behaviors have been developed, they don't work in all cases.Constance Holden, Science

More from Merriam-Webster on aversive

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