caus·​a·​tive ˈkȯ-zə-tiv How to pronounce causative (audio)
: effective or operating as a cause or agent
causative bacteria of cholera
: expressing causation
specifically : being a linguistic form that indicates that the subject causes an act to be performed or a condition to come into being
causative noun
causatively adverb

Examples of causative in a Sentence

A virus was found to be the causative agent of smallpox.
Recent Examples on the Web For example, studies have found that the growing trend of replacing cane sugar with synthetic or more processed alternatives may be a significant causative factor of obesity and declining health outcomes. Sai Balasubramanian, M.d., J.d., Forbes, 29 Mar. 2024 What can, and what should, the legislature do on public safety? Local and state leaders need to understand, as best possible, causative factors of crimes being committed. Charlotte Observer, 8 Feb. 2024 Although penicillin is the drug of choice to treat Treponema pallidum, the causative agent of syphilis, many health care providers are currently using doxycycline as an alternative to treat the infection because of the national shortage of penicillin. Shiv Sudhakar, Fox News, 8 Oct. 2023 The public health agency said the causative agent was norovirus, as was the case in all other 2023 outbreaks. Nathan Diller, USA TODAY, 13 July 2023 With some infections, by the time a person is evidently ill, their immune system has cleared away most of the causative agent. Eric Reinhart, STAT, 5 Oct. 2021 It’s also been shown that young patients with eczema are at a higher risk of developing other allergic conditions later in life, a correlation that Kim says might hint at a stronger — likely causative — relationship. Jennifer Walter, Discover Magazine, 27 Mar. 2020 With respect, therefore, there is a causative link between the heavy saturation of this pair (who have combined for slightly over 3,000 minutes this season) and the profound offensive struggles of the team as a whole. Mark Deeks, Forbes, 31 Mar. 2023 Finding such causative candidates for autism generally involves epidemiological studies that look for correlations between autism rates in a population and an environmental factor of interest. Emily Willingham, Discover Magazine, 18 Apr. 2019

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

Word History


Middle English causatyf (as noun; Old Scots causative as adjective), borrowed from Medieval Latin causātīvus, going back to Late Latin, "expressing reason, of a cause," from Latin causātus (past participle of causārī "to plead an action in law, plead as an excuse") + -īvus -ive — more at cause entry 2

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of causative was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near causative

Cite this Entry

“Causative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


caus·​a·​tive ˈkȯ-zə-tiv How to pronounce causative (audio)
: making something happen or exist
a causative agent of disease

Legal Definition


caus·​a·​tive ˈkȯ-zə-tiv How to pronounce causative (audio)
: effective or operating as a cause
the causative negligent act
: causal sense 2
the causative link between stress and coronary artery diseaseNational Law Journal

More from Merriam-Webster on causative

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