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 The new guidance is not compulsory, but government agencies typically do take these kinds of policy guidelines into consideration. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "The Trump Administration Wants to Regulate Artificial Intelligence," 9 Jan. 2020 Vaccinations are compulsory for children from 6 months to 19 years and for nonpregnant women between 20 to 35. Anchorage Daily News, "Deadly measles outbreak hits children in Samoa after anti-vaccine fears," 27 Nov. 2019 People often assume the draft was compulsory for an entire generation, but this was never the case. Elliot Ackerman, Time, "Why Bringing Back the Draft Could Stop America’s Forever Wars," 10 Oct. 2019 Under the state of emergency, schools were closed, children were banned from gatherings, and vaccinations were made compulsory., "Since September, over 5,600 measles cases have been recorded in the Pacific island nation of about 200,000 people, the Health Ministry said. At least 81 people have died, many of them younger than 5.," 31 Dec. 2019 Other than their pledge to eliminate rules that makes elections compulsory every five years, reforming how Britain goes to the polls is likely the last thing on the Conservatives’ minds. Natasha Frost, Quartz, "The UK’s electoral system is a disaster for democracy," 13 Dec. 2019 In North Korea, by contrast, school is typically followed by compulsory labour in the fields. The Economist, "Hungry for knowledge Private tutors are illegal in North Korea, but thriving," 12 Dec. 2019 To find out, the researchers studied the menus and semen quality of nearly 3,000 healthy young Danish men who underwent a compulsory military-readiness medical exam between 2008 and 2017. Susan Scutti, CNN, "Junk food loving young men have lower sperm counts than healthier eaters, researchers say," 26 June 2019 When Beijing made spoken Mandarin a compulsory subject, some students increasingly used characters unique to Cantonese, which were incomprehensible to Mandarin speakers. Jiayang Fan, The New Yorker, "Hong Kong’s Protest Movement and the Fight for the City’s Soul," 9 Dec. 2019

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

28 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Compulsory.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 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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Comments on compulsory

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


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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