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 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

Kansas Manhattan: State agricultural officials are considering a quarantine to slow the spread of an invasive plant threatening native grasses. USA TODAY, "Women in baseball, Lynyrd Skynyrd, circus fire: News from around our 50 states," 1 July 2019 Use regional resources for guidance regarding invasive plants. Tim Johnson,, "How to identify weeds and invasive species vs. ornamental plants," 20 June 2019 During this same period, record rains have pushed OC Parks to drastically step up its habitat restoration program by replacing blooms of invasive plants with native plants. Daniel Langhorne,, "OC Parks continues to use Roundup weed killer in backcountry," 5 June 2019 Toward the bottom, where the flow of the water through the ditch is slow, our task is to chop out tufts of grass that have taken root and to go after invasive plants like Chinese Elm and Russian Olive. Robert Neuwirth, National Geographic, "Centuries-old irrigation system shows how to manage scarce water," 17 May 2019 As packs of invasive green iguanas devour landscapes, damage roofs and poop in pools, desperate homeowners and condo associations are being forced to hire professionals to help keep the beasts at bay. Doreen Christensen,, "Iguanas are worse than ever and we’re spending big bucks to get rid of them," 21 June 2019 Given the intense scrutiny the industry has faced of late, such a potentially invasive study from a company with a history of gross mishandling of user data is sure to fuel more calls for the government to step in and protect users. Jessie Maga, National Review, "A Sensible Middle Ground on Data Privacy," 19 June 2019 Shared decision-making can cost health systems money, because patients opt for less invasive and less costly treatments. Guy Boulton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "What you need to know about shared decision-making and how it can lead to better health care," 19 June 2019 In Florida, invasive Burmese pythons are strangling the state’s wildlife – perhaps permanently. Ashley Shaffer, USA TODAY, "Once a snake, always a snake 🐍," 18 June 2019

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

9 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for invasive

The first known use of invasive was in 1598

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English Language Learners Definition of invasive

: tending to spread
medical : involving entry into the body by cutting or by inserting an instrument


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

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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 small bunch of flowers

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