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

Newsletter Sign-up Less invasive methods of diagnosing the disease are in development, and succeeding there will be just as important as developing an effective medicine. Charley Grant, WSJ, "A Big, Fatty Opportunity for Big Pharma," 18 Jan. 2019 For the majority of people who want to maintain full range of motion, an ACL is repaired by arthroscopic surgery, a modern, minimally invasive method developed to reduce pain, complications, and recovery time. Angela Garbes, The Cut, "What If We Told Women the Truth About What Birth Can Do to Their Bodies?," 15 May 2018 Additionally, like with any outpatient procedure, increased sedation used with more invasive methods requires appropriate equipment and trained staff, said the report, which was funded by six private foundations. Washington Post, "Report: Abortion is safe but barriers reduce quality of care," 16 Mar. 2018 Trap doors on the boxes gave the team a minimally invasive method with which to capture the birds and take measurements, and small blood draws provided insight into how the birds were responding to their environment. David L. Keeling, National Geographic, "Oil and Gas Drilling Is Causing Birds to Have Fewer Chicks," 8 Jan. 2018 One in eight women in the US will develop the disease, and in 2018, approximately 266,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed. Julia Belluz, Vox, "Having kids leads to a small, but significant, increased risk of breast cancer," 14 Dec. 2018 Buzz: Liposuction has come a long way in the last decade, and the latest iteration is safer, faster, and far less invasive. Harper's Bazaar Staff, Harper's BAZAAR, "17 Over-the-Top Beauty Treatments to Try Before Your Wedding Day," 13 Dec. 2018 But lifelogging produced reams of mostly useless footage, and Glass was maligned as invasive and creepy. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "You can buy a wearable camera to track your social life," 12 Dec. 2018 According to Leigh Greenwood, campaign manager for the Don’t Move Firewood Campaign, firewood that travels too far is the number one way that invasive insects and diseases rapidly spread. Jean Nick, Good Housekeeping, "8 Kinds of Wood That You Should Absolutely Never Burn," 13 July 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

22 Jan 2019

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on invasive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with invasive

Spanish Central: Translation of invasive

Nglish: Translation of invasive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of invasive for Arabic Speakers

Comments on invasive

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a complex dispute or argument

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