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’
    • ‘His face, almost in profile, shows a high coloring that is close to feverish and no doubt reflects his consumptive state.’
    • ‘Woolsey, also consumptive, either miscarried or had to terminate each pregnancy for health reasons.’
    • ‘A dark gray complexion indicates prolonged stagnation of blood such as a consumptive disease with blood deficiency accompanied by menoplania or amenia.’
    • ‘It can also be used as an auxiliary treatment for consumptive disease, asthma and diabetes.’
    • ‘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.’
    caustic, corroding, eroding, erosive, abrasive, biting, mordant, burning, stinging
    View synonyms
  • 2derogatory Relating to the using up of resources.

    ‘tourism represents an insidious form of consumptive activity’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Allowing the state to steal from the wealthy alters the full range of productive and consumptive activities - generally for the worse.’
    • ‘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.’


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

    ‘for some consumptives, the outlook was hopeless’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He puts his hand to his brow, in the manner of a tragic consumptive.’
    • ‘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).