• synonyms


[kyoo-myuh-luh-tiv, -ley-tiv]
  1. increasing or growing by accumulation or successive additions: the cumulative effect of one rejection after another.
  2. formed by or resulting from accumulation or the addition of successive parts or elements.
  3. of or relating to interest or dividends that, if not paid when due, become a prior claim for payment in the future: cumulative preferred stocks.
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Origin of cumulative

First recorded in 1595–1605; cumulate + -ive
Related formscu·mu·la·tive·ly, adverbcu·mu·la·tive·ness, nounun·cu·mu·la·tive, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cumulatively

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Two years of war had cumulatively desensitized them to thrills.

  • Cumulatively upon these conditions of despair, she began to wonder what the deuce this bally coot meant to do with her!

    The Shriek

    Charles Somerville

  • Swiftly, cumulatively as with every intense nature impressions reproduce, this one augmented.

    Where the Trail Divides

    Will Lillibridge

  • The criteria are primarily of versification; then, successively and cumulatively, of diction and mental habit.

    Francis Beaumont: Dramatist

    Charles Mills Gayley

British Dictionary definitions for cumulatively


  1. growing in quantity, strength, or effect by successive additions or gradual stepscumulative pollution
  2. gained by or resulting from a gradual building upcumulative benefits
  3. finance
    1. (of preference shares) entitling the holder to receive any arrears of dividend before any dividend is distributed to ordinary shareholders
    2. (of dividends or interest) intended to be accumulated if not paid when due
  4. statistics
    1. (of a frequency) including all values of a variable either below or above a specified value
    2. (of error) tending to increase as the sample size is increased
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Derived Formscumulatively, adverbcumulativeness, 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 cumulatively



c.1600, from Latin cumulatus, past participle of cumulare "to heap," from cumulus "heap" (see cumulus) + -ive.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cumulatively in Medicine


(kyōōmyə-lā′tĭv, -lə-tĭv)
  1. Increasing or enlarging by successive addition.
  2. Acquired by or resulting from accumulation.
  3. Of or relating to the sum of the frequencies of experimentally determined values of a random variable that are less than or equal to a specified value.
  4. Of or relating to experimental error that increases in magnitude with each successive measurement.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.