com·​pul·​so·​ry kəm-ˈpəls-rē How to pronounce compulsory (audio)
: mandatory, enforced
compulsory retirement
: coercive, compelling
compulsory measures
kəm-ˈpəls-rə-lē How to pronounce compulsory (audio)

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
Recent Examples on the Web Unlike the regular school year, attendance at summer school isn’t compulsory. Silas Allen, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 27 June 2024 Israel’s Supreme Court on June 25 ruled unanimously that the military must begin drafting ultra-Orthodox men for compulsory service, a landmark decision that could lead to the collapse of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition as Israel continues to wage war in Gaza. Tia Goldenberg, The Christian Science Monitor, 25 June 2024 Taiwan recently extended compulsory military service for its citizens from four months to a year, but service is widely unpopular among many young Taiwanese and the government has struggled to expand its roughly 169,000-strong military. Joshua Keating, Vox, 18 June 2024 Beginning almost 200 years ago, Basques emigrated to the American West to pursue economic opportunities, escape compulsory military service or political persecution, and for other personal reasons. Cheryl Oestreicher, The Conversation, 20 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for compulsory 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'compulsory.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of compulsory was in 1581

Dictionary Entries Near compulsory

Cite this Entry

“Compulsory.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


com·​pul·​so·​ry kəm-ˈpəls-(ə-)rē How to pronounce compulsory (audio)
: required by or as if by law
compulsory education
: having the power of forcing someone to do something
a compulsory law

Legal Definition


com·​pul·​so·​ry kəm-ˈpəl-sə-rē How to pronounce compulsory (audio)
: 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
: using compulsion : compelling
compulsory measures
compulsorily adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on compulsory

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