com·pul·sive | \kəm-ˈpəl-siv \

Definition of compulsive 

1 : having power to compel forced to resort to compulsive measures

2 : of, relating to, caused by, or suggestive of psychological compulsion or obsession compulsive actions a compulsive gambler compulsive eating

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Other Words from compulsive

compulsively adverb
compulsiveness noun
compulsivity \kəm-ˌpəl-ˈsi-və-tē, ˌkäm- \ noun

Synonyms for compulsive


besetting, driven, impulsive, obsessive

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Examples of compulsive in a Sentence

his compulsive clowning around can sometimes be annoying

Recent Examples on the Web

Mazurek has found that adults with autism are more prone to compulsive video-game use than their typical peers. Sarah Deweerdt, Science | AAAS, "Can science-based video games help kids with autism?," 22 June 2018 However, Facebook’s decision to release a child-friendly version of its messenger app comes amid harsh criticism by researchers, activists, and shareholders about the potential detrimental effects of compulsive technology use by children. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, "Facebook Messenger Kids App Is Expanding," 22 June 2018 The strictest definition of addiction refers to a disease resulting from changes in brain chemistry caused by compulsive use of drugs or alcohol. Washington Post, "Science Says: What makes something truly addictive," 21 June 2018 Obsessive-compulsive behavior, rigidity and fear of change also occur in both people with autism and those with OCD, suggesting that autistic females might also be hidden in this group. Maia Szalavitz, Scientific American, "Autism—It's Different in Girls," 1 Mar. 2016 For someone his critics say is a compulsive liar, Mr. Trump has been remarkably true to his word. Tony Abbott, WSJ, "An Ally Sizes Up Donald Trump," 13 July 2018 The symptoms listed by WHO echo symptoms for other addictive or compulsive disorders. NBC News, "World Health Organization adds gaming disorder to disease classifications," 18 June 2018 When Jared was just a pre-teen his childhood hobby, playing video games, morphed into a compulsive and eventually harmful obsession., "How Tech is Harming its Most Vulnerable Users," 18 June 2018 While many see the 56-year-old’s shift from comedy icon to activist painter jarring, the truth is that his life and career were built on an almost compulsive need to experiment and reinvent. Tyler Mccarthy, Fox News, "Jim Carrey is getting political with artwork but it's far from the first time he's reinvented himself," 6 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'compulsive.' 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 compulsive

1588, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for compulsive

see compulsion

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Statistics for compulsive

Last Updated

20 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for compulsive

The first known use of compulsive was in 1588

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More Definitions for compulsive



English Language Learners Definition of compulsive

: caused by a desire that is too strong to resist : impossible to stop or control

: not able to stop or control doing something

: very interesting


com·pul·sive | \-ˈpəl-siv \

Medical Definition of compulsive 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: of, relating to, caused by, or suggestive of psychological compulsion or obsession repetitive and compulsive behavior compulsive hoarding a compulsive gambler

Other Words from compulsive

compulsively adverb
compulsiveness noun
compulsivity \kəm-ˌpəl-ˈsiv-ət-ē, ˌkäm- \ noun plural -ties
Prozac, which increases the amount of serotonin sloshing around brain circuits, seems to reduce the compulsivity of autism. — Karen Springen, Newsweek, 13 May 1996



Medical Definition of compulsive (Entry 2 of 2)

: one who is subject to a psychological compulsion

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Comments on compulsive

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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