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

Other Words from compulsive

compulsively adverb
compulsiveness noun
compulsivity \ kəm-​ˌpəl-​ˈsi-​və-​tē How to pronounce compulsive (audio) , ˌkäm-​ \ noun

Examples of compulsive in a Sentence

his compulsive clowning around can sometimes be annoying
Recent Examples on the Web Gaudelli, who grew up in Harrison, N.Y., is low drama—a temperament Michaels appreciates after working with former colleagues like the late Chet Forte, a talented producer who later would publicly discuss his compulsive gambling habit. Jason Gay, WSJ, 14 Sep. 2022 The fruits of Diop’s compulsive labor are laid bare in her beguiling narrative debut. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 Sep. 2022 It’s a jarring comment from Efron, who seems to have a compulsive desire to put those around him at ease, mirroring and doubling the energy of whoever is before him. Lauren Larson, Men's Health, 7 Sep. 2022 On the road, Steinbeck despairs at the waste created by our compulsive consumerism and laments the way our natural environment is being slowly poisoned by plastics and refuse. Howard Fishman, Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2022 Checking off all the best qualities of a toiletry bag, this Calpak case works for even the most compulsive over-packer. Jacqueline Saguin, Good Housekeeping, 19 Aug. 2022 In numerous European countries, when a compulsive gambler registers for a self-exclusion list, sportsbook operators have an obligation to not accept their bets. Matt Rybaltowski, Forbes, 9 June 2022 In the film, Fraser plays a reclusive English teacher with a compulsive overeating disorder, attempting to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter, Ellie (Sadie Sink). Lester Fabian Brathwaite,, 5 Sep. 2022 Jason has lived with obsessive compulsive disorder since childhood. Benjamin Ryan, NBC News, 2 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of compulsive

1588, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for compulsive

borrowed from Medieval Latin compulsīvus, from Latin compulsus, past participle of compellere "to drive together, force to go, force (to a view, course of action)" + -īvus -ive — more at compel

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Time Traveler for compulsive

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The first known use of compulsive was in 1588

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Last Updated

24 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Compulsive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for compulsive


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 compulsive (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



Medical Definition of compulsive (Entry 2 of 2)

: one who is subject to a psychological compulsion

More from Merriam-Webster on compulsive

Nglish: Translation of compulsive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of compulsive for Arabic Speakers


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