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adjective im·pul·sive \im-ˈpəl-siv\

Simple Definition of impulsive

  • : doing things or tending to do things suddenly and without careful thought : acting or tending to act on impulse

  • : done suddenly and without planning : resulting from a sudden impulse

Full Definition of impulsive

  1. 1 :  having the power of or actually driving or impelling

  2. 2 a :  arising from an impulse <an impulsive decision> b :  prone to act on impulse <an impulsive young man>

  3. 3 :  acting momentarily

im·pul·sive·ly adverb
im·pul·sive·ness noun
im·pul·siv·i·ty play \-ˌpəl-ˈsi-və-tē\ noun

Examples of impulsive

  1. I couldn't make out exactly what had happened, though I could guess how it started—the two of them talking, kidding around when Mrs. Ramsey came down to the library basement to file some periodicals, an impulsive kiss in the stacks … —Tobias Wolff, Old School, 2003

  2. There was an odd nobility, a knight-errant quality, about Alan—in his willingness to suffer for the sake of life itself, in his tendency to view himself under harsher light than he would turn on others, in his impulsive generosity. —Tracy Kidder, Home Town, 1999

  3. So speaks Maude Bailey, the celibate feminist scholar heroine of A. S. Byatt's fifth novel, as, in an impulsive collusion with a male scholar she scarcely knows, she runs off to Brittany. —Joyce Carol Oates, Vogue, November 1990

  4. She's impulsive and often does things that she later regrets.

  5. He needs to learn to control his impulsive behavior.

  6. She made an impulsive decision to quit her job.

Origin of impulsive

(see 2impulse)

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of impulsive

spontaneous, impulsive, instinctive, automatic, mechanical mean acting or activated without deliberation. spontaneous implies lack of prompting and connotes naturalness <a spontaneous burst of applause>. impulsive implies acting under stress of emotion or spirit of the moment <impulsive acts of violence>. instinctive stresses action involving neither judgment nor will <blinking is an instinctive reaction>. automatic implies action engaging neither the mind nor the emotions and connotes a predictable response <his denial was automatic>. mechanical stresses the lifeless, often perfunctory character of the response <a mechanical teaching method>.

Medical Dictionary


adjective im·pul·sive \im-ˈpəl-siv\

Medical Definition of impulsive

  1. 1:  having the power of or actually driving or impelling

  2. 2:  actuated by or prone to act on impulse <impulsive behavior>

  3. 3:  acting momentarily <brief impulsive auditory stimuli>

  4. im·pul·sive·ly adverb
    im·pul·sive·ness noun
    im·pul·siv·i·ty \-ˌpəl-ˈsiv-ət-ē\play noun, plural im·pul·siv·i·ties

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February 11, 2016

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