ma·​nip·​u·​la·​tive mə-ˈni-pyə-ˌlā-tiv How to pronounce manipulative (audio)
: of, relating to, or performed by manipulation
Osteopathy emphasizes manipulative techniques to correct abnormalities thought to cause disease and inhibit recovery.Carol L. Otis et al.
especially : serving or intended to control or influence others in an artful and often unfair or selfish way
a clever and manipulative child
manipulative behavior
Simpleminded as his critics found his ideas and remarks, cynical and manipulative as he may have been in actuality, he seemed to believe every word he said. Arthur Miller
manipulatively adverb
manipulativeness noun

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web People throw around the term loosely to describe those who are self-absorbed, entitled and manipulative – from overbearing parents to destructive exes. Nicole Fallert, USA TODAY, 24 Mar. 2023 Navigating relationships with a narcissist Since the narcissist often develops controlling and manipulative relationships with the partner’s friends and family, the victim may feel reluctant to rely on their intimate circle for support. Fortune Well, 3 Mar. 2023 These battling bots’ ability to handle unexpected, silly, or manipulative questions from the public will surely play a big part in how the products work out for their creators and web users. WIRED, 9 Feb. 2023 Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings on Tuesday characterized Universal Orlando’s plan for creating a special taxing district to finance SunRail’s extension to International Drive and the theme park as secretive and potentially manipulative. Kevin Spear, Orlando Sentinel, 10 Jan. 2023 Family members said the boy was intelligent and manipulative, and said no relative would agree to babysit him. Andrea Marks, Rolling Stone, 1 Dec. 2022 Pieter's flamboyant and manipulative ex-girlfriend/bandmate, Gisela (Jameela Jamil). Leah Greenblatt,, 23 Nov. 2022 Sure, backronyms can appear performative and vapid at best, misleading and manipulative at worst—especially when a bill’s title doesn’t reflect its content. Matteo Wong, The Atlantic, 12 Nov. 2022 After all, who wouldn’t like to chuck Facebook and Twitter for a similar platform but without the data gobbling and manipulative algorithms? Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, 4 Nov. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'manipulative.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1834, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of manipulative was in 1834

Dictionary Entries Near manipulative

Cite this Entry

“Manipulative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Apr. 2023.

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