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adjective ini·tia·tive \i-ˈni-shə-tiv also -shē-ə-tiv\

Definition of initiative

  1. :  of or relating to initiation :  introductory, preliminary

Examples of initiative

  1. Luther's daring initiative thoughts did indeed come from above, but he owed them to no man or age. —Junius B. Remensnyder, What the World Owes Luther, 1917

  2. Many writers maintain that there is a rule of International Law forbidding the commencement of war without a declaration of war. But such rule, in fact, does not exist, for a great many wars take place without an initiative declaration of war. —Lassa Oppenheim, International Law, 1906

Origin of initiative

(see 1initiate)

First Known Use: 1795



noun ini·tia·tive \i-ˈni-shə-tiv also -shē-ə-tiv\

Simple Definition of initiative

  • the initiative : the power or opportunity to do something before others do

  • : the energy and desire that is needed to do something

  • : a plan or program that is intended to solve a problem

Full Definition of initiative

  1. 1 :  an introductory step <took the initiative in attempting to settle the issue>

  2. 2 :  energy or aptitude displayed in initiation of action :  enterprise <showed great initiative>

  3. 3 a :  the right to initiate legislative action b :  a procedure enabling a specified number of voters by petition to propose a law and secure its submission to the electorate or to the legislature for approval — compare referendum 1

on one's own initiative
  1. :  at one's own discretion :  independently of outside influence or control

Examples of initiative

  1. … on the day before their Club Med flight she took the initiative of telephoning Franco from work, ostensibly to tell him that she had really admired his new place … —John Barth, Atlantic, March 1995

  2. Following initiatives begun before the First World War, thirty-four states instituted or expanded workers' compensation laws in the 1920s. —Mary Beth Norton et al., A People and a Nation, 1988

  3. Since the social victim has been oppressed by society, he comes to feel that his individual life will be improved more by changes in society than by his own initiative. —Shelby Steele, Harper's, June 1988

  4. If you want to meet her, you're going to have to take the initiative and introduce yourself.

  5. The company has the opportunity to seize the initiative by getting its new products to the market before its competitors.

  6. The governor has proposed a new initiative to improve conditions in urban schools.

Origin of initiative

(see 1initiate)

First Known Use: 1793

INITIATIVE Defined for Kids


noun ini·tia·tive \i-ˈni-shə-tiv\

Definition of initiative

  1. 1 :  a first step or movement <I took the initiative and called first.>

  2. 2 :  energy shown in getting action started <He's a person of great initiative.>

Seen and Heard

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February 6, 2016

an official order, decree, or edict

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