required; mandatory; obligatory: compulsory education.
using compulsion; compelling; constraining: compulsory measures to control rioting.

noun, plural com·pul·so·ries.

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 formscom·pul·so·ri·ly, adverbcom·pul·so·ri·ness, nounnon·com·pul·so·ri·ly, adverbnon·com·pul·so·ri·ly·ness, nounnon·com·pul·so·ry, adjectivequa·si-com·pul·so·ri·ly, adverbqua·si-com·pul·so·ry, adjectiveun·com·pul·so·ry, adjective

Antonyms for compulsory

1, 2. voluntary. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for compulsory

Contemporary Examples of compulsory

Historical Examples of compulsory

  • 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?


    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; obligatorycompulsory education
involving or employing compulsion; compelling; necessary; essential
Derived Formscompulsorily, adverbcompulsoriness, 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 compulsory

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper