pervasive

adjective
per·​va·​sive | \ pər-ˈvā-siv How to pronounce pervasive (audio) , -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

And, at the very same time, a mighty, pervasive and corrosive double standard belies the Klobuchar stories. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Women Will Never Truly Be Equal Until They're Allowed to Get Angry," 13 Feb. 2019 Tencent is best known as the company that owns WeChat, China’s pervasive app that can make payments, host mini-apps, and connect people through messages and emojis. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "China lifts video game ban but not for its biggest player," 29 Dec. 2018 Although there is still a pervasive stigma surrounding body hair, especially for women and femmes, Bella, Julia, and Madonna are all examples of the fact that the natural state of our bodies is nothing to be ashamed of. Isabella Gomez, Teen Vogue, "Bella Thorne Posts Photos of Julia Roberts and Madonna Rocking Armpit Hair," 18 Nov. 2018 Many men voiced surprise and shock at such pervasive harassment and assault. Sarah Stankorb, Glamour, "Are Hashtags Like #MeToo and #BelieveWomen Hurting or Helping Survivors?," 15 Oct. 2018 In an email interview with me, Bradford mentioned uncertainty as a pervasive factor. Vanessa Willhoughby, Allure, "The Reality of Navigating the Mental Health System as a Black Woman," 13 Oct. 2018 Another Bloomberg article published Tuesday continues to fan the flames, suggesting that the story is not only real but pervasive. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "New Report Claims More Evidence of Chinese Microchip Tampering," 9 Oct. 2018 The demonstrations have been fueled in large part by pervasive despair caused by the blockade that has caused widespread economic hardship and left the coastal territory with crippling fuel shortages and just a few hours of electricity a day. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "Israeli jets strike Gaza terror targets after Hamas launches dozens of rockets," 2 Oct. 2018 Addicts, if not casual users, are regarded with a pervasive contempt. Josie Duffy Rice, The Atlantic, "The Gospel According to Pusha T," 12 July 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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Last Updated

5 Mar 2019

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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of or relating to a parable or parabola

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