Definition of consumptive in English:



  • 1dated Affected with a wasting disease, especially pulmonary tuberculosis.

    ‘from birth he was sickly and consumptive’
    ‘he travelled to Torquay for the health of his consumptive son’
    • ‘A fearless and ambitious entrepreneur named Nathan Cross moves with his consumptive wife and two sons to the little town of Defiance, Missouri in 1874.’
    • ‘Woolsey, also consumptive, either miscarried or had to terminate each pregnancy for health reasons.’
    • ‘It can also be used as an auxiliary treatment for consumptive disease, asthma and diabetes.’
    • ‘A dark gray complexion indicates prolonged stagnation of blood such as a consumptive disease with blood deficiency accompanied by menoplania or amenia.’
    • ‘His face, almost in profile, shows a high coloring that is close to feverish and no doubt reflects his consumptive state.’
    caustic, corroding, eroding, erosive, abrasive, biting, mordant, burning, stinging
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  • 2derogatory Relating to the using up of resources.

    ‘tourism represents an insidious form of consumptive activity’
    • ‘Allowing the state to steal from the wealthy alters the full range of productive and consumptive activities - generally for the worse.’
    • ‘And if climate scientists are right, the cause of our problems is manic, consumptive, fossil-fuel driven human activity.’
    • ‘However, each falls short of the type of provision necessary to allow the consumptive activity contemplated by the proposal.’
    • ‘I’d like to try and make a connection between the consumptive, market-driven culture that we live in and the machine that has become the church.’
    • ‘All resources must be effectively utilized, load must be balanced evenly, and agents must avoid chaotic or overly consumptive behavior that can lead to ineffective applications and systems.’


  • A person with a wasting disease, especially pulmonary tuberculosis.

    ‘for some consumptives, the outlook was hopeless’
    • ‘He puts his hand to his brow, in the manner of a tragic consumptive.’
    • ‘He sat behind a walnut desk and could treat every sickness you could name and plenty you couldn't; more impressively, he kept his consumptives alive each year.’
    • ‘This image, in turn, stood in stark opposition to that of the deformed, graceless, debilitated scoliotic girl and to that of the languid, listless, and useless conspicuous consumptive.’
    • ‘But happily that doesn't mean that it or the hotel is full of spluttering Keatsian consumptives nor that the spa is especially clinical in feel.’
    • ‘She performs abortions in secret, supports suffrage, and caters to consumptives and TB sufferers when few other boarding-house establishments will take them.’


Mid 17th century: from medieval Latin consumptivus, from Latin consumpt- ‘consumed’, from the verb consumere (see consume).