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

Namely, the money will not be used to stop the pervasive surveillance, data gobbling and hard-to-understand privacy problems that make consumers feel so helpless. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "How Facebook’s $5 Billion Fine Should Be Spent," 20 July 2019 Studies indicate the pile maintenance program can keep the docks open for about another nine years before pervasive corrosion from seawater will start forcing closures. Author: Elwood Brehmer, Anchorage Daily News, "Discovery of more earthquake damage adds to troubles at Port of Alaska," 17 July 2019 That’ll help eliminate tanking and the whole burn-the-village-to-save-it mentality pervasive in small-money places. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Doc's Morning Line: Is the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff waning? We're about to find out.," 14 July 2019 In myriad, and sometimes misunderstood, ways, Amazon has firmly established itself as one of the most pervasive brands inside American homes. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "How Amazon sunk its talons into your home," 12 July 2019 At the same time, there is a pervasive feeling, analysts and executives say, that German companies can’t keep up with the tech giants from the U.S. and elsewhere. Sara Germano, WSJ, "Germany Inc. Shudders as Deutsche Bank, Others Face Upheaval," 12 July 2019 South Korea's military is notorious for a culture of sometimes deadly hazing and bullying that remains pervasive despite attempts to address it. James Griffiths, CNN, "Gay and trans soldiers say they were abused in South Korean military," 10 July 2019 Today, childhood and adolescence are more visible and pervasive than ever before. Kate Eichhorn, WIRED, "Social Media Could Make It Impossible to Grow Up," 8 July 2019 Per BBC News, many hotels and restaurants are at risk of shutting down due to the pervasive water shortage. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Satellite Images Reveal the Extent of Chennai’s Water Shortage," 5 July 2019

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

23 Jul 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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