com·​pul·​so·​ry | \ kəm-ˈpəls-rē How to pronounce compulsory (audio) , -ˈpəl-sə- \

Definition of compulsory

1 : mandatory, enforced compulsory retirement
2 : coercive, compelling compulsory measures

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Other Words from compulsory

compulsorily \ kəm-​ˈpəls-​rə-​lē How to pronounce compulsorily (audio) , -​ˈpəl-​sə-​ \ adverb

Examples of compulsory in a Sentence

To free the mind and the heart from compulsory religious confession and observance was good for all three interested parties: the state, the church and the people. — Jon Meacham, Newsweek, 27 Jan. 2009 So he wants a private life and no photographs and nobody to know his home address. I can dig it, I can relate to that (but, like he should try it when it's compulsory instead of a free-choice option). — Salman Rushdie, New York Times Book Review, 14 Jan. 1990 He began to resent the compulsory attendance at the boring factory meetings. — James Reston, Jr., Time, 28 Nov. 1988 compulsory retirement at age 70
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Recent Examples on the Web Earlier this month, the government again made wearing face masks outdoors compulsory. John Follain,, "Italy Targets Bars, Restaurants, Parties in New Virus Curbs," 13 Oct. 2020 United said Monday that around 7,000 staff had taken voluntary buyouts while others had agreed to extended leave and work-share deals, reducing the number of compulsory cuts threatened in July. Doug Cameron, WSJ, "United Trims Furlough Plans as Pilots Agree to Deal," 28 Sep. 2020 How can asexuality and the ace perspective challenge the biases of compulsory sexuality and relationship hierarchies? Sarah Neilson, Washington Post, "Angela Chen’s ‘Ace’ reveals what it means to be asexual in a society obsessed with sexuality," 28 Sep. 2020 Litigation to get companies to allow compulsory licensing (which is legal under World Trade Organization agreements), and collective action can also make a difference. Nicole Hassoun, Fortune, "To ethically tackle COVID-19, Big Pharma needs an overhaul," 25 Sep. 2020 If its publishing rates are tied to the compulsory license rate, however, a rate change could affect what Apple pays. Ed Christman, Billboard, "An Extended FAQ on the CRB's Rate Determination Battle," 24 Sep. 2020 Public health officials are encouraged by the data and argue that with short trips, good ventilation, lack of socializing, and compulsory mask usage transmission rates can be kept low. Eric Goldwyn, The New York Review of Books, "Costly Lessons from the Second Avenue Subway," 22 Sep. 2020 And Slack, like work email, makes workplace communication feel casual, even as participants internalize it as compulsory. Anne Helen Petersen, Wired, "How Work Became an Inescapable Hellhole," 21 Sep. 2020 Is compulsory Spanish for all Americans part of Jill Biden's platform? Chelsey Cox, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Claim that Jill Biden will require Americans to learn Spanish began as satire," 15 Sep. 2020

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

1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for compulsory

borrowed from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French compulsorie "compelling, coercive," borrowed from Medieval Latin compulsōrius, derivative, with -tōrius, deverbal adjective suffix (originally forming derivatives from agent nouns ending in -tōr-, -tor) of Latin compellere "to drive together, force to go, force (to a view, course of action)" (with -s- from past participle compulsus) — more at compel

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Time Traveler for compulsory

Time Traveler

The first known use of compulsory was in 1581

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Statistics for compulsory

Last Updated

18 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Compulsory.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for compulsory


How to pronounce compulsory (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of compulsory

: required by a law or rule
: having the power of forcing someone to do something


com·​pul·​so·​ry | \ kəm-ˈpəls-rē How to pronounce compulsory (audio) , -ˈpəl-sə-rē \

Kids Definition of compulsory

1 : required by or as if by law compulsory education
2 : having the power of forcing someone to do something a compulsory law


com·​pul·​so·​ry | \ kəm-ˈpəl-sə-rē How to pronounce compulsory (audio) \

Legal Definition of compulsory

1 : required or compelled by law : mandatory, obligatory compulsory arbitration compulsory insurance specifically : required to be brought or asserted in a pleading because of having arisen from the transaction or occurrence that is the subject of litigation a compulsory counterclaim compulsory reconvention — compare elective, permissive
2 : using compulsion : compelling compulsory measures

Other Words from compulsory

compulsorily \ -​sə-​rə-​lē How to pronounce compulsorily (audio) \ adverb

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