adjective im·per·a·tive \im-ˈper-ə-tiv, -ˈpe-rə-\

: very important

grammar : having the form that expresses a command rather than a statement or a question

: expressing a command in a forceful and confident way

Full Definition of IMPERATIVE

a :  of, relating to, or constituting the grammatical mood that expresses the will to influence the behavior of another
b :  expressive of a command, entreaty, or exhortation
c :  having power to restrain, control, and direct
:  not to be avoided or evaded :  necessary <an imperative duty>
im·per·a·tive·ly adverb
im·per·a·tive·ness noun

Examples of IMPERATIVE

  1. Eat your spinach! is an imperative sentence.
  2. Help in the sentence Help me! is an imperative verb.
  3. a verb in the imperative mood
  4. People resented his imperative tone of voice.
  5. … I have begun to feel each time as if I am mutilating my antennae (which is how Rastafarians, among others, think of hair) and attenuating my power. It seems imperative not to cut my hair anymore. —Alice Walker, Living by the Word, (1981) 1988


Middle English imperatyf, from Late Latin imperativus, from Latin imperatus, past participle of imperare to command — more at emperor
First Known Use: 15th century

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms

ablaut, allusion, anacoluthon, diacritic, gerund, idiom, infinitive, metaphor, semiotics, simile

Rhymes with IMPERATIVE


noun im·per·a·tive \im-ˈper-ə-tiv, -ˈpe-rə-\

: a command, rule, duty, etc., that is very important or necessary

grammar the imperative : the form that a verb or sentence has when it is expressing a command

: an imperative verb or sentence

Full Definition of IMPERATIVE

:  the grammatical mood that expresses the will to influence the behavior of another or a verb form or verbal phrase expressing it
:  something that is imperative (see 1imperative): as
a :  command, order
b :  rule, guide
c :  an obligatory act or duty
d :  an obligatory judgment or proposition

Examples of IMPERATIVE

  1. She considers it a moral imperative to help people in need.
  2. Eat your spinach! is in the imperative.
  3. Go and buy are imperatives in the sentence Please go to the store and buy some milk.
  4. Ellroy has got to be the only writer who still uses dig as an imperative … —Laura Miller, New York Times Book Review, 20 May 2001


(see 1imperative)
First Known Use: 1530


adjective im·per·a·tive \im-ˈper-ət-iv\   (Medical Dictionary)

Medical Definition of IMPERATIVE

:  eliciting a motor response <an imperative stimulus>


Next Word in the Dictionary: imperatorPrevious Word in the Dictionary: imperativalAll Words Near: imperative
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