1

imperative

adjective im·per·a·tive \ im-ˈper-ə-tiv , -ˈpe-rə- \
Updated on: 10 Nov 2017

Definition of imperative

1 a :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

imperatively

adverb

imperativeness

noun

Examples of imperative in a Sentence

  1. … 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 WalkerLiving by the Word(1981) 1988
  2. 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 SacksAwakenings1973
  3. 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
  4. “Eat your spinach!” is an imperative sentence.

  5. “Help” in the sentence “Help me!” is an imperative verb.

  6. a verb in the imperative mood

  7. People resented his imperative tone of voice.

Recent Examples of imperative from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of imperative

Middle English imperatyf, from Late Latin imperativus, from Latin imperatus, past participle of imperare to command — more at emperor

Synonym Discussion of imperative

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

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms


2

imperative

noun im·per·a·tive \ im-ˈper-ə-tiv , -ˈpe-rə- \

Definition of imperative

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 1imperative): such as
b :rule, guide
c :an obligatory act or duty
d :an obligatory judgment or proposition

Examples of imperative in a Sentence

  1. Ellroy has got to be the only writer who still uses "dig" as an imperative —Laura MillerNew York Times Book Review20 May 2001
  2. 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 KuminIn Deep1987
  3. "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 EhrenreichNew York Times Magazine20 May 1984
  4. She considers it a moral imperative to help people in need.

  5. “Eat your spinach!” is in the imperative.

  6. “Go” and “buy” are imperatives in the sentence “Please go to the store and buy some milk.”

Recent Examples of imperative from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of imperative



IMPERATIVE Defined for English Language Learners

imperative

adjective

Definition of imperative for English Language Learners

  • : very important

  • grammar : having the form that expresses a command rather than a statement or a question

  • : expressing a command in a forceful and confident way


imperative

noun

Definition of imperative for English Language Learners

  • : a command, rule, duty, etc., that is very important or necessary

  • grammar the imperative : the form that a verb or sentence has when it is expressing a command

  • : an imperative verb or sentence


IMPERATIVE Defined for Kids

imperative

adjective im·per·a·tive \ im-ˈper-ə-tiv \

Definition of imperative for Students

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

Medical Dictionary

imperative

adjective im·per·a·tive \ im-ˈper-ət-iv \

medical Definition of imperative

:eliciting a motor response
  • an imperative stimulus


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