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

Campbell: Striking the balance between urgency and patience will be imperative. Dan Wiederer, chicagotribune.com, "After an energized offseason, what are the Bears' expectations in 2018?," 14 June 2018 Ongoing discoveries of bones, artifacts and DNA from deep time add new urgency to this imperative. The Editors, Scientific American, "Indigenous Remains Do Not Belong to Science," 25 Apr. 2018 Unlike his weekly showings on the domestic scene, there is a lack of incisiveness; an absence of fearlessness which makes him such an imperative asset to Pep Guardiola. SI.com, "90min World Cup Fan Diaries: How a Subtle Change Could Turn England From Dreamers to Conquerors," 4 July 2018 In Sunday’s game, being able to stay in the strike zone and force swings and weak contact from the Angels was imperative with his teammates dealing with the triple-digit heat index at Camden Yards. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles' Kevin Gausman finally rewarded for progress with win over Angels," 1 July 2018 Something about giving in to your biological imperative relieves at least some of the discomfort of existing. The Editors Of Gq, GQ, "How to Cure a Hangover: A Drinker’s Guide to Surviving the Morning After," 29 June 2018 During Mercury's backward spin, a seemingly innocuous typo can quickly become a professional calamity, so due diligence is absolutely imperative. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What July's Aquarius Horoscope Means for You," 29 June 2018 Thus the imperative of casting the NRA as the adversary and all who welcome its money and support as complicit. William Cummings, USA TODAY, "The Bubble: March for Our Lives protesters dismissed by conservatives," 26 Mar. 2018 The imperative to deflect criticism outward, so conspicuous in the 1980s, no longer applies. The Economist, "The death of the archetypal Russian villain," 28 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 But critics throughout much of the rest of the energy sector say saving these plants is not actually a national security imperative — and their pending closure is simply a consequence of good old marketplace competition. Dino Grandoni, Washington Post, "The Energy 202: Coal allies call on Trump administration to use emergency powers to boost business," 14 May 2018 At other times, as if human activity is yielding to the imperatives of nature, the performers stand still while sheets of water pour down from high above onto the stage. Don Aucoin, BostonGlobe.com, "A Cirque du Soleil show that’s as interested in ‘Ahh’ as ‘Wow’," 29 June 2018 Reasonable people can disagree about the right way to strike the balance, but that’s all there is to it — a political balancing act of costs and benefits in which the imperatives of border security need to be balanced against other considerations. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "The pernicious myth of “open borders”," 22 June 2018 In other words, Facebook’s news section operates like a traditional newsroom, reflecting the biases of its workers and the institutional imperatives of the corporation. James Freeman, WSJ, "Facebook’s 10,000 New Editors," 16 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

9 Sep 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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