imperative

adjective
im·​per·​a·​tive | \im-ˈper-ə-tiv, -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, -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

Chris Dunn, associate legal director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the public disclosure of the technology is imperative given that most people don’t know if their data has been captured. Zolan Kanno-youngs, WSJ, "NYC Councilman Aims to Regulate Use of Face-Screening Technology," 14 Oct. 2018 There became a national imperative to launch Americans on American spacecraft, and SpaceX, along with Boeing and its Starliner capsule, picked up the project. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Cape Canaveral's Legendary Launchpad Is Ready for Astronauts Once More," 16 Aug. 2018 Purists will tell you that aged Gouda is imperative. Laura Washburn, House Beautiful, "Easy Vegetable Soup Recipe: Soup au Pistou," 23 Jan. 2013 To me, nothing is more imperative for that organization than making that rule change immediately. Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter, "THR's TV Critics Debate the Highs and Lows of the 2018 Emmy Nominations," 12 July 2018 If the Phantoms are going win the Eastern Conference title and advance to the AHL’s Calder Cup finals, a victory over visiting Toronto on Wednesday is almost imperative. Sam Carchidi, Philly.com, "Phantoms in virtual must-win territory in AHL playoffs," 22 May 2018 But there is no imperative in making the dead collateral damage in a quest for profit. Josie Duffy Rice, The Atlantic, "The Gospel According to Pusha T," 12 July 2018 The trust’s imperative to generate more revenue for the school, for instance, has long strained the bonds of the broader Hershey community. Benjamin Soskis, WSJ, "‘In Chocolate We Trust’ Review: A Man, a Brand, a School, a Town," 25 Mar. 2018 The company launched its first Conscious Collection in 2011, but the conversation on sustainability has only intensified as mitigating climate change has become a global imperative. Sara Holzman, Marie Claire, "Make Room in Your Closet for H&M's Latest Sustainable Clothing Collection," 9 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Savall is sensitive to the imperative of centering the narrative around these voices. Thomas May, The Seattle Times, "‘The Routes of Slavery’ traces a musical journey of resilience in the face of inhumanity," 31 Oct. 2018 But the Trump administration is adding a third policy imperative: immigration enforcement. Dara Lind, Vox, "Finding homes for immigrant kids is hard. Trump’s making it harder — by arresting their relatives.," 21 Sep. 2018 China will not relent on industrial policy imperatives, such as Made in China 2025, aimed at building self-reliance. New York Times, "In About-Face on Trade, Trump Vows to Protect ZTE Jobs in China," 13 May 2018 Rather than rush to the next issue that needs to be addressed, set goals and benchmarks to make sure managers and all levels are following through on achieving diversity imperatives. Grace Donnelly, Fortune, "What Employers and Recruiters Need to Consider When Trying to Make Their Workplaces More Diverse," 11 June 2018 Domestic Policy Riyadh's desire for higher prices is driven by domestic policy imperatives. Javier Blas, Houston Chronicle, "Are Saudis pushing OPEC for $80 a barrel oil?," 10 Apr. 2018 What most alarms congressional negotiators is that political imperatives appear to have overtaken the immigration policy deliberations in the still-unfolding debate over Mr. Trump’s vulgar description in last Thursday’s meeting of some nations. Jonathan Martin, Michael D. Shear And Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times, "As Shutdown Talk Rises, Trump’s Immigration Words Pose Risks for Both Parties," 15 Jan. 2018 The movie has smarter-than-usual critiques of corporate imperatives (the more Wall Street learns about Lift’s depraved and exploitative labor schemes, the more the stock goes up), and just enough crazy jokes to sustain it. Gary Thompson, Philly.com, "'Sorry to Bother You': The funniest movie you'll ever see about labor organizing," 11 July 2018 Warmbier’s death reminds us that securing the release of citizens abroad isn’t an act of charity but a fundamental imperative of a healthy American security policy. William Mcgurn, WSJ, "Bring Home Our Hostages," 28 May 2018

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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Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

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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)

: 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

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

: 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

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

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 \

Medical Definition of imperative 

: eliciting a motor response an imperative stimulus

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