ex·​i·​gent ˈek-sə-jənt How to pronounce exigent (audio)
: requiring immediate aid or action
exigent circumstances
: requiring or calling for much : demanding
an exigent client
exigently adverb

Did you know?

Exigent is a formal word with meanings closely tied to its Latin forbear, exigere, meaning "to demand." Exigent things and people demand attention—for example, an exigent client expects so much that they are hard to satisfy, and exigent circumstances are so significant that they can be used to justify certain police actions without the warrant typically required. Before exigent joined the language in the early 1600s, the noun exigency was being used to refer to something that is necessary in a particular situation—for example, the exigencies of an emergency situation might require that certain usual precautions be ignored. That word dates to the late 1500s, but even earlier, in the mid-1400s, exigence was on the scene doing the same job. All three words—exigent, exigency, and exigence—continue to meet the demands of English users, albeit not frequently in everyday conversation.

Examples of exigent in a Sentence

started his workday with a flood of exigent matters that required his quick decision
Recent Examples on the Web One of the most exigent scenes to watch in the documentary is when the lawyers take the Pegattis through the arduous process of hearing graphic and devastating details about the murder. Daniel Scheffler, SPIN, 10 June 2024 It's used for humanitarian purposes or for exigent circumstances. Ally Schweitzer, NPR, 8 May 2024 Then an old-timer hoarse and exigent with years bugled like a braying donkey. Jack O'Connor, Outdoor Life, 2 May 2024 Defense attorneys argued that anything Elders said before he was Mirandized is inadmissible, while Sims argued there were exigent circumstances. James Hartley, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 17 Apr. 2024 Officers enter without a warrant, citing exigent circumstances based on the tip from R that his siblings were still inside the home. Samantha Wanderer, ABC News, 22 Mar. 2024 Faced with such exigent realities, Roosevelt and his advisers decided to tolerate the continuing burden of federal excise levies. Joseph Thorndike, Forbes, 26 Feb. 2024 Most of the time when the FBI needs to tap it for communications or information involving Americans, the circumstances are exigent and the purpose is to protect those and other Americans — who may be the targets of, for example, cyber or terror threats. The Editors, National Review, 12 Dec. 2023 For one of Oregon’s most prolific playwrights, and a crackerjack interpreter of exigent issues, this is a disappointing dabble in the wrong direction. oregonlive, 16 May 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'exigent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin exigent-, exigens, present participle of exigere to demand — more at exact

First Known Use

1624, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of exigent was in 1624


Dictionary Entries Near exigent

Cite this Entry

“Exigent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exigent. Accessed 24 Jun. 2024.

Legal Definition


ex·​i·​gent ˈek-sə-jənt How to pronounce exigent (audio)
: requiring immediate aid or action see also exigent circumstances
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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