Definition of compulsory in English:



  • 1Required by law or a rule; obligatory.

    ‘compulsory military service’
    ‘it was compulsory to attend mass’
    • ‘According to the RIAA, Rosen clearly stated that compulsory licensing is not a good idea.’
    • ‘Medical inspections for schoolchildren become compulsory by law.’
    • ‘The ID card should be compulsory from the age of ten.’
    • ‘The group were worried about what their children were going to do once they had finished compulsory education.’
    • ‘If voting were not compulsory, masses of people would abstain.’
    • ‘Upon completion of compulsory service each soldier is assigned to a reserve unit.’
    • ‘Britain is the only European Union state not to make a foreign language compulsory in primary school.’
    • ‘What he can't do is to make attendance compulsory, or threaten that non-attendance will delay other qualifications.’
    • ‘The completion of a training programme is now one of the compulsory requirements of the scheme.’
    • ‘They are making teachers attend a compulsory course to enhance their computer skills.’
    • ‘Any child subjected to compulsory schooling of any kind gets left behind intellectually.’
    • ‘Education is free and compulsory between the ages of seven and thirteen.’
    • ‘Now belief was essential and attendance was compulsory, at least in theory.’
    • ‘All he had to look forward to in this country was death, a prison camp or compulsory military service.’
    • ‘The literacy and numeracy strategies were not compulsory in primary schools.’
    • ‘The union fears that compulsory redundancies could be on the cards when the year-long change begins next April.’
    • ‘Many parents believed that to give girls education beyond the compulsory age was a waste of money.’
    • ‘Military service is still compulsory in Russia and men aged 18 serve two years.’
    • ‘Learning it should be compulsory for a driver's licence.’
    • ‘The documents also make it clear that BA cannot guarantee that compulsory redundancies will not be imposed.’
    obligatory, mandatory, required, requisite, necessary, essential, statutory, prescribed
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Involving or exercising compulsion; coercive.
      ‘the abuse of compulsory powers’
      • ‘The applicants appear to propose a dual test in respect of the powers of compulsory acquisition.’
      • ‘Defra does not have compulsory powers to sample deer and needs permission from the landowner or deer owner.’
      • ‘Civil libertarians are shocked at any ideas to use compulsory powers on big groups.’
      • ‘This section is concerned with the powers of compulsory admission available to health professionals.’
      • ‘There must be compulsory billeting powers, and they would have to be quite ruthless with those powers.’
      • ‘The judge said she was arguing against compulsory wayleave powers which had been used for 200 years.’


Early 16th century (as a noun denoting a legal mandate which had to be obeyed): from medieval Latin compulsorius, from compuls- ‘driven, forced’, from the verb compellere (see compel).