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

Keep scrolling for more

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.”
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

HFPA’s Rocio Ayuso told The Hollywood Reporter that support from current industry members is imperative to nurture the new generations of filmmakers. Alexandra Del Rosario, The Hollywood Reporter, "Emerging Latinx and Hispanic Filmmakers on "Fighting the Good Fight" in Short Films," 15 Sep. 2019 His sideline-to-sideline speed is imperative against the league’s speediest running backs and wide receivers. Kyle Fredrickson, The Denver Post, "NFC preview: Will new coaching staff propel Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay back to title chase?," 5 Sep. 2019 But as the public has increasingly awakened to its privacy rights this imperative has generated more friction. Wired, "Google Wants to Help Tech Companies Know Less About You," 5 Sep. 2019 It is caught between opposing monsters: the commercial and communitarian imperative. Jesse Green, New York Times, "Review: Public Works Finds the Heroism in ‘Hercules’," 2 Sep. 2019 First-and-10: Junior Perrion McClinton won a summer battle for the starting quarterback nod, and getting up to speed will be imperative given the Ramblers’ unforgiving early schedule. Steve Reaven, chicagotribune.com, "Pioneer Press 2019 football preview: Loyola Ramblers," 26 Aug. 2019 Smokey and his clipped, memorable message were imperative to educate the public so that campfires wouldn’t get out of control. Sarah Berns, Outside Online, "Why Smokey Bear Desperately Needs a Makeover," 24 Aug. 2019 But aesthetician Kristina Holey says it’s also imperative to look at the processing and sourcing of natural ingredients to ensure that they will be received by the body without a negative impact. Olivia Fleming & Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Ultimate Guide to Clean Beauty," 12 Aug. 2019 This imperative favors extremism, vanity, fear—whatever grabs us and holds on. Jamil Zaki, Scientific American, "The Technology of Kindness," 6 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In a larger sense, Google found itself and its culture deeply maladapted to a new set of political, social, and business imperatives. Nitasha Tiku, WIRED, "Three Years of Misery Inside Google, the Happiest Company in Tech," 13 Aug. 2019 This is about businesses achieving commercially sustainable social impact, aligning their business models and products and services with broader social and economic imperatives. Ajay Banga, Fortune, "Mastercard CEO: How to Make the Digital Economy Work for Everyone," 23 Aug. 2019 When the state strips a population of its agency, there is little room to consider individual ethical imperatives or personal conscience, One Child Nation suggests. Brandon Yu, The Atlantic, "One Child Nation Paints a Harrowing Picture of an Infamous Policy," 13 Aug. 2019 When a company needed to downsize, having RL staff decreased the imperative to cut headcount, because some of its employees were already cheaper than full-timers. Cassie Werber, Quartz at Work, "The three-stage blueprint for “crafting” a flexible career," 13 Aug. 2019 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about imperative

Statistics for imperative

Last Updated

23 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for imperative

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on imperative

What made you want to look up imperative? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

suitable to be imparted to the public

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!