com·pul·so·ry | \ kəm-ˈpəls-rē , -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, -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 compulsory recall is one of the largest ever in New Zealand. Washington Post, "New Zealand recalls 50,000 cars with faulty Takata air bags," 4 Apr. 2018 To the tune of Western and Iranian pop and rap music, the teenager bopped and twirled in her bedroom without wearing the compulsory Islamic headscarf or hijab. Laignee Barron, Time, "Women in Iran Are Dancing to Protest the Arrest of a Teenage Instagrammer," 9 July 2018 Some groups that have fought to end compulsory fees argue that unions can stave off membership declines by better representing workers. Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, "Supreme Court deals major financial blow to nation's public employee unions," 27 June 2018 This will be a damaging blow to Democrats nationally but with particular pain in 22 mostly-Democratic states that collectively employ millions of teachers where compulsory union dues are a fact of life. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "What are Dems to do about the SupCo?," 27 June 2018 There is a reason why vaccination is compulsory in some countries. Zoë Weiner, Teen Vogue, "Fans Boycott Kat Von D’s Beauty Brand After Her Anti-Vaccination Comments," 15 June 2018 Under the compulsory recall order, the government will be able to name manufacturers who are falling behind from July. Washington Post, "Takata air bag recall made compulsory for Australia vehicles," 6 Mar. 2018 The governing coalition and the Communists are united in rejecting any compulsory distribution of migrants in the European Union. Washington Post, "New Czech government wins confidence vote in Parliament," 11 July 2018 The defense ministry previously said that Son must complete the compulsory two years. Casey Quackenbush, Time, "South Korean Men Will Soon be Able to Choose an Alternative to Mandatory Military Service," 29 June 2018

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

see compulsion

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Statistics for compulsory

Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for compulsory

The first known use of compulsory was in 1581

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More Definitions for compulsory



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 , -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 \

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 \ 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).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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