Simple Definition of imperious
: having or showing the proud and unpleasant attitude of someone who gives orders and expects other people to obey them
Full Definition of imperious
Examples of imperious
<an imperious little boy who liked to tell the other scouts what to do>
<an imperious movie star who thinks she's some sort of goddess>
Origin of imperious
Latin imperiosus, from imperium
First Known Use: 1540
Synonym Discussion of imperious
Some commentators insist that use of masterful should be limited to sense 1 in order to preserve a distinction between it and masterly. The distinction is a modern one, excogitated by a 20th century pundit in disregard of the history of the word. Both words developed in a parallel manner but the earlier sense of masterly, equivalent to masterful 1, dropped out of use. Since masterly had but one sense, the pundit opined that it would be tidy if masterful were likewise limited to one sense and he forthwith condemned use of masterful 2 as an error. Sense 2 of masterful, which is slightly older than the sense of masterly intended to replace it, has continued in reputable use all along; it cannot rationally be called an error.
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