pervasive

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

Definition of pervasive 

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

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Other Words from pervasive

pervasively adverb
pervasiveness noun

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

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.

Examples of pervasive in a Sentence

A resuscitated orthodoxy, so pervasive as to be nearly invisible, rules the land. — Mark Slouka, Harper's, November 2004 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 Race was never articulated as an issue at the trial, even though its presence was pervasive. — Howard Chua-Eoan, Time, 6 Mar. 2000 the pervasive nature of the problem television's pervasive influence on our culture
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Recent Examples on the Web

Now, pervasive connectivity is becoming more important. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft's $399, 10-inch Surface Go rethinks the Windows tablet for consumers," 9 July 2018 Land confiscation and human rights violations remained pervasive. Timothy Mclaughlin, WIRED, "How Facebook’s Rise Fueled Chaos and Confusion in Myanmar," 6 July 2018 Lotus Notes apps are pervasive through the department. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Baltimore’s police department is a technological disaster," 29 June 2018 But none are as pervasive or as consistent as the ones that happen at Walmart, which has about 4,000 stores nationwide. J.d. Gallop, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Nearly half a dozen people have died in Walmart parking lots in Brevard County since 2015," 24 June 2018 Although public intellectuals warned of pervasive anxiety, Americans celebrated the 1950s as a period of prosperity, consensus, harmony, and homogeneity. Glenn C. Altschuler, Philly.com, "Alan Nadel's 'Demographic Angst': The dark anxieties behind 1950s films," 15 June 2018 The pervasive fear that asking for help reveals mental weakness – even moral decay – discourages many residents of the Mountain West from receiving treatment. Martin Kuz, The Christian Science Monitor, "In Mountain West, how frontier ethos magnifies problem of suicide," 14 June 2018 And the modern, dynamic economy built on technology innovation still co-exists with massive inequality, pervasive graft, and enduring poverty in many parts of the country—and in Guadalajara, too. Andrew Selee, Smithsonian, "How Guadalajara Reinvented Itself as a Technology Hub," 13 June 2018 In Harford County, as most folks know, one of the most pervasive health crises is the overdose epidemic caused by a wave of those hooked on prescription painkillers and other opioids used as substitutes to feed the addictions. The Aegis, "A transformative time [Editorial]," 1 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of pervasive

circa 1750, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pervasive

see pervade

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Statistics for pervasive

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pervasive

The first known use of pervasive was circa 1750

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More Definitions for pervasive

pervasive

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of pervasive

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

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Comments on pervasive

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