in·​va·​sive | \in-ˈvā-siv, -ziv\

Definition of invasive 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : tending to spread especially in a quick or aggressive manner: such as

a of a nonnative organism : growing and dispersing easily usually to the detriment of native species and ecosystems It will be the second Australian insect released to thwart melaleuca, one of many exponentially spreading invasive plants that out-compete native Florida species, monopolizing wetlands and natural areas.— Neil Santaniello Scientists say more than 150 invasive species have entered the Great Lakes, multiplying rapidly and feeding on native species or outcompeting with them for food.— Sophia Taren

b(1) of cancer cells : tending to infiltrate surrounding healthy tissue … this procedure preserves the architecture of the tissue sample, which is vital for determining whether tumor cells are invasive.— Andrew A. Skolnick

(2) of a pathogenic microorganism or disease : disseminating from a localized area throughout the body sepsis association with invasive bacteria invasive streptococcal infection

2 : involving entry into the living body (as by incision or by insertion of an instrument) invasive diagnostic techniques

3 : of, relating to, or characterized by military aggression

4 : tending to infringe



Definition of invasive (Entry 2 of 2)

: an organism that is not native to the place where found and tends to grow and spread easily usually to the detriment of native species and ecosystems Zebra mussels are the latest in a series of aquatic invasives to threaten Texas' inland waters.— Shannon Tompkins

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Other Words from invasive


invasiveness noun

Examples of invasive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

This is less of a concern in places where the mosquitoes are an invasive species, but some people have expressed opinions that regional success will lead to widespread use and result in global extinction of the target mosquito species. Anthony A. James, STAT, "Gene-drive technology must be developed in a safe, ethical way," 10 July 2018 In March , state officials seized and euthanized Crosland's snapping turtle, which are considered an invasive species in Idaho. Katy Moeller, idahostatesman, "Idaho teacher accused of animal cruelty pleads not guilty at court appearance Tuesday," 10 July 2018 That predatory silent roar underwater is the lionfish, an invasive species in the Caribbean that can devastate up to 80 percent of fish in a coral reef in a scant five weeks. Mark Rogers, USA TODAY, "Lionfish in the Caribbean: Destructive menace, delicious dinner," 3 July 2018 In a Facebook post, the Department of Public Works for Anne Arundel County posted details about the animals, warning that the Chinese mitten crab is an invasive species. Dana Hedgpeth, Washington Post, "If you find this furry crab in Maryland waters, don’t throw it back," 25 June 2018 Giant hogweed is an invasive species that can form huge blisters and burn your skin, biologists say. Elise Takahama,, "This pretty plant is dangerous — and it’s growing in more than a dozen Mass. communities," 21 June 2018 The Pinelands have suffered the tree-munching southern pine beetle, an invasive species from the South now able to thrive further north because of warming. Frank Kummer,, "New Jersey is getting hotter faster than most of the U.S. Get ready to move to higher ground," 18 June 2018 An invasive species of Asian plant that can cause blindness is turning up in Virginia, prompting warnings for people to be on the lookout for a 15-foot-tall herb topped with fluffy white flowers. Mark Price, charlotteobserver, "Invasive plant found in Virginia: It 'makes poison ivy look like a walk in the park'," 15 June 2018 Northern snakeheads are considered an invasive species in Maryland., "Digest: Mechanicsville's Fox catches record snakehead in Charles County," 1 June 2018

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


1598, in the meaning defined at sense 3


1990, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for invasive

Last Updated

29 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for invasive

The first known use of invasive was in 1598

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More Definitions for invasive


in·​va·​sive | \-siv, -ziv \

Medical Definition of invasive 

1 : tending to spread especially : tending to invade healthy tissue invasive cancer cells

2 : involving entry into the living body (as by incision or by insertion of an instrument) invasive diagnostic techniques

Other Words from invasive

invasiveness noun

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Comments on invasive

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


noxious or harmful

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