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[kuh m-puhl-suh-ree] /kəmˈpʌl sə ri/
required; mandatory; obligatory:
compulsory education.
using compulsion; compelling; constraining:
compulsory measures to control rioting.
noun, plural compulsories.
something, as an athletic feat, that must be performed or completed as part of a contest or competition:
The ice skater received a higher score on the compulsories than on her freestyle performance.
Origin of compulsory
1510-20; < Medieval Latin compulsōrius, equivalent to Latin compul-, variant stem of compellere (see compel) + -sōrius, for -tōrius -tory1; cf. compulsive
Related forms
compulsorily, adverb
compulsoriness, noun
noncompulsorily, adverb
noncompulsorilyness, noun
noncompulsory, adjective
quasi-compulsorily, adverb
quasi-compulsory, adjective
uncompulsory, adjective
1, 2. voluntary. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for compulsory
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • By it a national and compulsory system of education was established for the first time.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • A child has a right to finality as regards its compulsory lessons.

  • No; your pride had placed them beyond your compulsory power.

  • What advantage do we offer to the former for their compulsory thrift?

    Freeland Theodor Hertzka
  • He missed his compulsory morning shower, a miss which did not distress him greatly.

    The Portygee Joseph Crosby Lincoln
British Dictionary definitions for compulsory


required by regulations or laws; obligatory: compulsory education
involving or employing compulsion; compelling; necessary; essential
Derived Forms
compulsorily, adverb
compulsoriness, 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 compulsory

1580s, from Medieval Latin compulsorius, from Latin compulsus, past participle of compellere (see compel).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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