[uh-soh-shee-ey-tiv, -see-, -shuh-tiv]


pertaining to or resulting from association.
tending to associate or unite.
Mathematics, Logic.
  1. (of an operation on a set of elements) giving an equivalent expression when elements are grouped without change of order, as (a + b) + c = a + (b + c).
  2. having reference to this property: associative law of multiplication.

Origin of associative

First recorded in 1805–15; associate + -ive
Related formsas·so·ci·a·tive·ly [uh-soh-shee-ey-tiv-lee, -uh-tiv-, -see-] /əˈsoʊ ʃiˌeɪ tɪv li, -ə tɪv-, -si-/, adverbas·so·ci·a·tiv·i·ty [uh-soh-shee-uh-tiv-i-tee, -see-, -shuh-tiv-] /əˌsoʊ ʃi əˈtɪv ɪ ti, -si-, -ʃəˈtɪv-/, as·so·ci·a·tive·ness, nounnon·as·so·ci·a·tive, adjectivenon·as·so·ci·a·tive·ly, adverbsub·as·so·ci·a·tive, adjectivesub·as·so·ci·a·tive·ly, adverbun·as·so·ci·a·tive, adjectiveun·as·so·ci·a·tive·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for associative



of, relating to, or causing association or union
maths logic
  1. being independent of the grouping of numbers, symbols, or terms within a given set, as in conjunction or in an expression such as (2 × 3) × 4 = 2 × (3 × 4)
  2. referring to this propertythe associative laws of arithmetic
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 associative

1812, from associate (v.) + -ive.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for associative



Of or relating to the property of an operation, such as addition or multiplication, which states that the grouping of numbers undergoing the operation does not change the result. For example, 3 + (4 + 5) is equal to (3 + 4) + 5. See also commutative distributive.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.