com·​pul·​sive | \ kəm-ˈpəl-siv How to pronounce compulsive (audio) \

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 How to pronounce compulsivity (audio) , ˌkäm-​ \ noun

Examples of compulsive in a Sentence

his compulsive clowning around can sometimes be annoying

Recent Examples on the Web

It’s defined as a persistent compulsive dependency on a behavior or substance that harms the user. Ezra Klein, Vox, "Is Big Tech addictive? A debate with Nir Eyal.," 7 Aug. 2019 He had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and autism. Megan O'matz,, "Parkland school gunman was searched every morning at Stoneman Douglas," 26 July 2019 The boy has also been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and ADHD. Jane Morice |,, "Cleveland police searching for missing 11-year-old boy," 14 July 2019 They reek of a tantalizingly nasty combination of potato, lily, garlic and armpit that engenders compulsive sniffing. Eugenia Bone, WSJ, "‘The Truffle Underground’ Review: Malice and Mushrooms," 10 July 2019 In the pilot episode of Euphoria, Rue is shown having anxiety attacks and exhibiting symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder. Cory Stieg,, "The Truth About The Fentanyl Scene In Euphoria," 25 June 2019 These can include depression, anxiety, panic, obsessive compulsive disorder and PTSD, which can occur any time during pregnancy or in the first year after childbirth. Kellie Hwang, Indianapolis Star, "'You are not alone': How to identify and get help for postpartum depression," 20 June 2019 Turns out the Internet is full of people with symptoms like mine, many of them tied to one diagnosis: obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Alex Daly, Glamour, "This Is What It’s Like to Be Obsessed With Perfection," 13 May 2019 Defense attorneys, meanwhile, described him as a compulsive hoarder who never betrayed his country. Washington Post, "Ex-NSA contractor sentenced to 9 years for stolen documents," 19 July 2019

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

11 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

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
chiefly British : very interesting


com·​pul·​sive | \ -ˈpəl-siv How to pronounce compulsive (audio) \

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-​ How to pronounce compulsivity (audio) \ noun, plural compulsivities
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

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of or relating to the heavens

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