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[ad-hee-siv, -ziv] /ædˈhi sɪv, -zɪv/
coated with glue, paste, mastic, or other sticky substance:
adhesive bandages.
sticking fast; sticky; clinging.
Physics. of or relating to the molecular force that exists in the area of contact between unlike bodies and that acts to unite them.
a substance that causes something to adhere, as glue or rubber cement.
Philately. a postage stamp with a gummed back, as distinguished from one embossed or printed on an envelope or card.
Origin of adhesive
1660-70; adhes(ion) + -ive
Related forms
adhesively, adverb
adhesiveness, noun
nonadhesive, adjective
nonadhesively, adverb
nonadhesiveness, noun
semiadhesive, adjective
semiadhesively, adverb
semiadhesiveness, noun
unadhesive, adjective
unadhesively, adverb
unadhesiveness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for adhesive
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The need for prepayment of postage by means of adhesive postage stamps.

  • This was an adhesive, and used some years after stamps were in use.

    The Stamps of Canada Bertram Poole
  • The hair was then attached directly to a piece of thin leather, by means of some adhesive substance, or composition.

  • adhesive is the scientific, sticking or sticky the popular word.

    English Synonyms and Antonyms James Champlin Fernald
  • She stripped me to the waist, poked around my chest a bit and wrapped me in adhesive.

    Backlash Winston Marks
  • An adhesive plaster is in popular language a sticking-plaster.

    English Synonyms and Antonyms James Champlin Fernald
  • English was propping the lid open and sticking it so with adhesive.

    Winner Take All Larry Evans
  • Do not let the most adhesive of food betray you into this most disagreeable of habits.

    Social Life Maud C. Cooke
British Dictionary definitions for adhesive


able or designed to adhere; sticky: adhesive tape
tenacious or clinging
a substance used for sticking objects together, such as glue, cement, or paste
Derived Forms
adhesively, adverb
adhesiveness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for adhesive

1660s, from French adhésif, formed in French from Latin adhaes-, past participle stem of adhaere (see adherent).


1881, from adhesive (adj.). Originally of postage stamps (adhesive stamp is attested from 1840). Of substances that cause to adhere by 1900.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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adhesive in Medicine

adhesive ad·he·sive (ād-hē'sĭv, -zĭv)

  1. Tending to adhere; sticky.

  2. Of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an adhesion.

A substance that adheres to a surface or causes adherence between surfaces.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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adhesive in Science
Noun  A substance, such as paste or cement, that causes two surfaces to stick together. Adhesives are made of gelatin or other substances, such as epoxy, resin, or polyethylene.

Adjective  Relating to adhesion.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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