imperative

adjective
im·​per·​a·​tive | \ im-ˈper-ə-tiv How to pronounce imperative (audio) , -ˈpe-rə-\

Definition of imperative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of, relating to, or constituting the grammatical mood that expresses the will to influence the behavior of another
b : expressive of a command, entreaty, or exhortation
c : having power to restrain, control, and direct
2 : not to be avoided or evaded : necessary an imperative duty

imperative

noun
im·​per·​a·​tive | \ im-ˈper-ə-tiv How to pronounce imperative (audio) , -ˈpe-rə-\

Definition of imperative (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the grammatical mood that expresses the will to influence the behavior of another or a verb form or verbal phrase expressing it
2 : something that is imperative (see imperative entry 1): such as
a : command, order
b : rule, guide
c : an obligatory act or duty
d : an obligatory judgment or proposition

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Other Words from imperative

Adjective

imperatively adverb
imperativeness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for imperative

Adjective

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

Examples of imperative in a Sentence

Adjective

… I have begun to feel each time as if I am mutilating my antennae (which is how Rastafarians, among others, think of hair) and attenuating my power. It seems imperative not to cut my hair anymore. — Alice Walker, Living by the Word, (1981) 1988 This strange and distorted form of breathing could be interrupted for a minute or two by a strong effort of will, but would then resume its bizarre and imperative character. — Oliver Sacks, Awakenings, 1973 We had a long and interesting evening with the Katzenbachs. He and Lyndon discussed the imperative need to make Washington a law-abiding city and how to go about it. — Lady Bird Johnson 27 Jan. 1965, A White House Diary1970 “Eat your spinach!” is an imperative sentence. “Help” in the sentence “Help me!” is an imperative verb. a verb in the imperative mood People resented his imperative tone of voice.

Noun

Ellroy has got to be the only writer who still uses "dig" as an imperative — Laura Miller, New York Times Book Review, 20 May 2001 Indeed, under pressure from a new way of life in which radiant heat from woodburning stoves must circulate unimpeded by dividers, virtually every house with a chimney today has abandoned the closed-door imperative of the high-technology kitchen. — Maxine Kumin, In Deep, 1987 "Maturity" had been a code word … for marriage and settling down; "growth" implied a plurality of legitimate options, if not a positive imperative to keep moving from one insight or experience to the next. — Barbara Ehrenreich, New York Times Magazine, 20 May 1984 She considers it a moral imperative to help people in need. “Eat your spinach!” is in the imperative. “Go” and “buy” are imperatives in the sentence “Please go to the store and buy some milk.”
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

There is no imperative, at this point, for every low-polling Presidential contender to drop out of the race. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, "The Urgency of the 2020 Senate Race," 1 Sep. 2019 Nevertheless, the city sees it as an imperative part of meeting its waste reduction goals. Maggie Angst, The Mercury News, "Palo Alto to consider one of the Bay Area’s strictest bans of plastic straws, produce bags," 9 June 2019 Not only will Indy be providing students with plenty of cuddles and slobbery kisses, but the pup could be an imperative part of keeping students happy and healthy this year. Mckenzie Schwark, Teen Vogue, "Therapy Animals Are on Some College Campuses for Back-to-School Season," 29 Aug. 2018 Satisfying the representation movement is an identity-politics imperative that teaches a narrow appreciation of Audry’s distinction as a pioneering female filmmaker. Armond White, National Review, "The Vintage French Film Olivia Bests Today’s #Resistance Filmmakers," 21 Aug. 2019 Let’s name one player from each of those squads whose impact will be imperative in order to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy at season’s end. Josiah Turner, SI.com, "Six Non-Superstars Who Could Decide Next Season," 20 Aug. 2019 That means planning and making online reservations for admission and parking are imperative. Heidi Chang, Los Angeles Times, "A big storm hit Kauai, spawning another issue: Are tourists wrecking the island?," 10 Aug. 2019 Far from the fringe issue it is often treated as in mainstream political discourse, solidarity with native peoples has become a global ecological imperative. Andre Pagliarini, The New Republic, "What Indigenous Rights Have to Do With Fighting Climate Change," 7 Aug. 2019 But lawmakers had come to believe that a change was imperative for the state’s future. Casey Parks, USA Today, "'You don't know what you did for me': Released from prison by Obama, now on the dean's list," 8 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Yet one of the imperatives of government, including the government of which Burke is a member, is to protect people from being enticed into making decisions without enough information to protect themselves. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Paying women to donate their eggs for research is still a terrible idea," 23 Aug. 2019 Their inclusion is an issue of social justice and an economic imperative. Greses Perez, The Mercury News, "Opinion: How technology discriminates against half of our population," 16 Aug. 2019 In 2011, two decrees from the late King Abdullah made getting more women to find jobs an economic imperative. Adam Rasmi, Quartz at Work, "A record number of Saudi women have joined the workforce," 30 July 2019 The proposals for fleets serving up broadband from space fit a terrestrial policy imperative: to expand high-speed internet service to people and places left poorly served by traditional communications providers. Bloomberg, The Mercury News, "Elon Musk’s satellites dot the heavens, leaving stargazers upset," 8 July 2019 But this interpretation of who owes what to whom rests on definitions of obligation and choice that take zero account of moral imperatives. Carolyn Hax, Detroit Free Press, "Husband thinks elderly parents’ care is not his problem," 7 July 2019 The president’s agenda hinges profoundly around his own personality, celebrity and will to power; moral imperatives, political values and conventional diplomatic processes all take a back seat. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Trump’s reality show takes over U.S. foreign policy," 1 July 2019 His time with Perry gave him a new creative imperative: to be quick with his work. Krystal Rodriguez, Billboard, "Hayden James Is Getting His Moment in the Sun With New Album: Interview," 18 June 2019 On the level of historical scholarship, Guyatt’s constant distortion of the book’s evidence and contentions betrays a peculiar confusion in which historical dogma and its imperatives prevail over facts and reason. Nicholas Guyatt, The New York Review of Books, "‘No Property in Man’: An Exchange," 6 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'imperative.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of imperative

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for imperative

Adjective

Middle English imperatyf, borrowed from Late Latin imperātīvus, from Latin imperātus, past participle of imperāre "to give orders, command" + -īvus -ive — more at emperor

Noun

borrowed from Late Latin imperātīvus, noun derivative of imperātīvus imperative entry 1

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Statistics for imperative

Last Updated

9 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for imperative

The first known use of imperative was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for imperative

imperative

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of imperative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

formal : very important
grammar : having the form that expresses a command rather than a statement or a question
formal : expressing a command in a forceful and confident way

imperative

noun

English Language Learners Definition of imperative (Entry 2 of 2)

formal : a command, rule, duty, etc., that is very important or necessary
: the form that a verb or sentence has when it is expressing a command
: an imperative verb or sentence

imperative

adjective
im·​per·​a·​tive | \ im-ˈper-ə-tiv How to pronounce imperative (audio) \

Kids Definition of imperative

1 : expressing a command, request, or strong encouragement “Come here!” is an imperative sentence.
2 : urgent sense 1 It is imperative that you see a doctor.

imperative

adjective
im·​per·​a·​tive | \ im-ˈper-ət-iv How to pronounce imperative (audio) \

Medical Definition of imperative

: eliciting a motor response an imperative stimulus

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