Definition of compulsory in English:



  • 1Required by law or a rule; obligatory.

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


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).