[ad-hee-siv, -ziv]


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.

Nearby words

  1. adherend,
  2. adherent,
  3. adherently,
  4. adhesion,
  5. adhesiotomy,
  6. adhesive absorbent dressing,
  7. adhesive bandage,
  8. adhesive binding,
  9. adhesive capsulitis,
  10. adhesive pericarditis

Origin of adhesive

First recorded in 1660–70; adhes(ion) + -ive

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for adhesive

British Dictionary definitions for adhesive



able or designed to adhere; stickyadhesive tape
tenacious or clinging


a substance used for sticking objects together, such as glue, cement, or paste
Derived Formsadhesively, adverbadhesiveness, 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

Word Origin and History for adhesive
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for adhesive




Tending to adhere; sticky.
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.

Science definitions for adhesive




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.


Relating to adhesion.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.