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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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for compulsory
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • (c) compulsory insurance of the inhabitants against fire; except where the State intervenes to do so.

  • A child has a right to finality as regards its compulsory lessons.

  • (e) Common belief has it that a compulsory measure should be the last straw at which to grasp.

    Criminal Types V. M. Masten
  • What advantage do we offer to the former for their compulsory thrift?

    Freeland Theodor Hertzka
  • We find relatively little elimination in the lower grades since the compulsory attendance laws require attendance.

    On the Firing Line in Education Adoniram Judson Ladd
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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