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adjective pe·remp·to·ry \pə-ˈrem(p)-t(ə-)rē\

Simple Definition of peremptory

  • —used to describe an order, command, etc., that you must obey without any questions or excuses

  • : having or showing the insulting attitude of people who think that they should be obeyed without question

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of peremptory

  1. 1 a :  putting an end to or precluding a right of action, debate, or delay; specifically :  not providing an opportunity to show cause why one should not comply <a peremptory mandamus> b :  admitting of no contradiction

  2. 2 :  expressive of urgency or command <a peremptory call>

  3. 3 a :  characterized by often imperious or arrogant self-assurance <how insolent of late he is become, how proud, how peremptory — Shakespeare> b :  indicative of a peremptory attitude or nature :  haughty <a peremptory tone> <peremptory disregard of an objection>


play \-ˈrem(p)-t(ə-)rə-lē; -ˌrem(p)-ˈtȯr-ə-lē\ adverb


play \-ˈrem(p)-t(ə-)rē-nəs\ noun

Examples of peremptory in a sentence

  1. Her peremptory tone angered me.

  2. <the governor's peremptory personal assistant began telling the crowd of reporters and photographers exactly where they had to stand>

Did You Know?

Peremptory is ultimately from Latin perimere, which means "to take entirely" or "destroy" and comes from per- ("thoroughly") and emere ("to take"). Peremptory implies the removal of one's option to disagree or contest something. It sometimes suggests an abrupt dictatorial manner combined with an unwillingness to tolerate disobedience or dissent (as in "he was given a peremptory dismissal"). A related term is the adjective preemptive, which comes from Latin praeemere-from prae- ("before") plus emere. Preemptive means "marked by the seizing of the initiative" (as in "a preemptive attack").

Origin and Etymology of peremptory

Middle English peremptorie, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin & Latin; Late Latin peremptorius, from Latin, destructive, from perimere to take entirely, destroy, from per- thoroughly + emere to take — more at redeem

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of peremptory

masterful, domineering, imperious, peremptory, imperative mean tending to impose one's will on others. masterful implies a strong personality and ability to act authoritatively <her masterful personality soon dominated the movement>. domineering suggests an overbearing or arbitrary manner and an obstinate determination to enforce one's will <children controlled by domineering parents>. imperious implies a commanding nature or manner and often suggests arrogant assurance <an imperious executive used to getting his own way>. peremptory implies an abrupt dictatorial manner coupled with an unwillingness to brook disobedience or dissent <given a peremptory dismissal>. imperative implies peremptoriness arising more from the urgency of the situation than from an inherent will to dominate <an imperative appeal for assistance>.

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.

Law Dictionary



adjective pe·remp·to·ry \pə-ˈremp-tə-rē\

Legal Definition of peremptory

  1. 1 :  permitting no dispute, alternative, or delay; specifically :  not providing an opportunity to show cause why one should not comply <when the right to require the performance of the act is clear and it is apparent that no valid excuse can be given for not performing it, a peremptory mandamus may be allowed — Revised Statutes of Nebraska>

  2. 2 :  not requiring cause — see also peremptory challenge at challenge


\pə-ˈremp-tə-rə-lē, -ˌremp-ˈtōr-ə-lē\ play adverb


\-ˈremp-tə-rē-nəs\ play noun

Origin and Etymology of peremptory

Late Latin peremptorius, from Latin, destructive, from perimere to take entirely, destroy



noun pe·remp·to·ry

Legal Definition of peremptory



  1. :  peremptory challenge at challenge

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