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[kyoo-myuh-luh-tiv, -ley-tiv] /ˈkyu myə lə tɪv, -ˌleɪ tɪv/
increasing or growing by accumulation or successive additions:
the cumulative effect of one rejection after another.
formed by or resulting from accumulation or the addition of successive parts or elements.
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.
1595-1605; cumulate + -ive
Related forms
cumulatively, adverb
cumulativeness, noun
uncumulative, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for cumulative


growing in quantity, strength, or effect by successive additions or gradual steps: cumulative pollution
gained by or resulting from a gradual building up: cumulative benefits
  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
  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
Derived Forms
cumulatively, adverb
cumulativeness, 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 cumulative

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cumulative in Medicine

cumulative cu·mu·la·tive (kyōōm'yə-lā'tĭv, -yə-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.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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