pervasive

play
adjective per·va·sive \pər-ˈvā-siv, -ziv\

Definition of pervasive

  1. :  existing in or spreading through every part of something a pervasive odor

pervasively

adverb

pervasiveness

noun

Examples of pervasive in a Sentence

  1. A resuscitated orthodoxy, so pervasive as to be nearly invisible, rules the land. —Mark Slouka, Harper's, November 2004

  2. The manic money-grab excitement of the Nineties had never been altogether free of our pervasive American guilt. —Norman Mailer, New York Review of Books, 27 Mar. 2002

  3. Race was never articulated as an issue at the trial, even though its presence was pervasive. —Howard Chua-Eoan, Time, 6 Mar. 2000

  4. the pervasive nature of the problem

  5. television's pervasive influence on our culture

Recent Examples of pervasive from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pervasive'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Is pervasive Always Negative?

Pervasive is most often used of things we don't really want spreading throughout all parts of something:

a pervasive problem

a stench that is pervasive

pervasive corruption

This is true too in the term pervasive developmental disorder, a synonym of the more commonly used autism spectrum disorder.

But pervasive can occasionally also be found in neutral and even positive contexts:

a pervasive rhythm

a pervasive sense of calm

The meaning isn't neutral when the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) uses it. Beginning in the early 1990s, the MPAA started giving the R rating to movies with "pervasive language." Most movies have language throughout, of course. The MPAA is using the phrase "pervasive language" to refer to the frequent use of a particular kind of language: profanity.

Origin and Etymology of pervasive

see pervade


PERVASIVE Defined for English Language Learners

pervasive

play
adjective

Definition of pervasive for English Language Learners

  • : existing in every part of something : spreading to all parts of something



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lacking social experience or grace

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