in·​va·​sive | \ in-ˈvā-siv How to pronounce invasive (audio) , -ziv \

Definition of invasive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : tending to spread especially in a quick or aggressive manner: such as
a of a non-native 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

Other Words from invasive


invasiveness noun

Examples of invasive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But for purists like Schwartz, weeds are non-native invasive plants imported during European colonization. Los Angeles Times, 13 June 2022 There are no easy ways to get rid of invasive plants. oregonlive, 12 June 2022 With that in mind, here are the top five most invasive plants taking over Georgia in 2022, according to research gathered by the University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. Hunter Boyce, ajc, 1 June 2022 Today, the channel has been completely blocked with sediment, clogging the natural flow of water, leading to an explosive growth of invasive plants and turning the river into more of a hiking trail. Martin E. Comas, Orlando Sentinel, 23 May 2022 Yellowstone has over 1,000 native flowering species and 225 species of invasive plants. Fox News, 21 May 2022 For the second year in a row, goats are strolling around part of the Colerain Park munching on invasive plants and weeds. Ashley Smith, The Enquirer, 16 May 2022 The wetlands restoration will remove silt and invasive plants, expand the wildlife habitat, improve water quality and protect against flooding from sudden storm-water flows. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 May 2022 Biologists have used biological controls successfully on other invasive plants, particularly the air potato beetle in Florida. Dennis Pillion |, al, 8 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun It was introduced to the U.S. in the 1870s, but escaped gardens and is now classified as an invasive in the mid-Atlantic states. Leanne Potts, Better Homes & Gardens, 20 Oct. 2021 Also avoid porcelainberry, which is poisonous and a foreign invasive. Ellen Nibali,, 19 Nov. 2020 See More

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.

First Known Use of invasive


1598, in the meaning defined at sense 3


1990, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for invasive


earlier, "attacking, offensive," going back to Middle English invasif "offensive (of weapons)," borrowed from Middle French and Medieval Latin; Middle French, borrowed from Medieval Latin invāsīvus, from Latin invāsus, past participle of invādere "to enter with hostile intent, assault, attack" + -īvus -ive — more at invade


derivative of invasive entry 1

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Time Traveler for invasive

Time Traveler

The first known use of invasive was in 1598

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Dictionary Entries Near invasive

invasion of (someone's) privacy



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Last Updated

21 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Invasive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for invasive


in·​va·​sive | \ -siv, -ziv How to pronounce invasive (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on invasive

Nglish: Translation of invasive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of invasive for Arabic Speakers


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