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
Full Definition of peremptory
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 : expressive of urgency or command <a peremptory call>
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>
Examples of peremptory
Her peremptory tone angered me.
<the governor's peremptory personal assistant began telling the crowd of reporters and photographers exactly where they had to stand>
Origin 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
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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