im·​pe·​ri·​ous im-ˈpir-ē-əs How to pronounce imperious (audio)
: marked by arrogant assurance : domineering
: befitting or characteristic of one of eminent rank or attainments : commanding, dominant
an imperious manner
: intensely compelling : urgent
the imperious problems of the new ageJ. F. Kennedy
imperiously adverb
imperiousness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for imperious

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 imperious in a Sentence

an imperious little boy who liked to tell the other scouts what to do an imperious movie star who thinks she's some sort of goddess
Recent Examples on the Web Editor’s picks The thesis of these episodes is that Diana’s death was almost entirely the fault of Dodi and, especially, Dodi’s wealthy, imperious father Mohamed Al-Fayed (Salim Dau). Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 16 Nov. 2023 His moves have a language all their own: now imperious, now fornicating, now mincing, now rock-star swaggering. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 9 Sep. 2023 Steinmetz can’t wait to follow in their imperious footsteps. Matthew J. Palm, Orlando Sentinel, 16 Apr. 2023 This initial amity was very short-lived: The prosperous and generous Native American tribes of Southern California were conquered by Spanish settlers, then enslaved by imperious theologians to launch a mission-building campaign that stretched from San Diego to San Francisco. Louis Sahagún, Los Angeles Times, 9 Oct. 2023 Spain started the tournament well, smooth and imperious, and then promptly lost heavily to Japan. Rory Smith, New York Times, 4 Aug. 2023 Play to the judges and run through a gamut of expressions: sultry, imperious, flirty. Anne Branigin, Washington Post, 11 Aug. 2023 The altogether more imperious 40 mm model offers better legibility than the 36 mm version, and is crafted from Oystersteel, an alloy which is corrosion-resistant and takes on an incredible sheen when polished diligently. Nick Scott, Robb Report, 27 Mar. 2023 Both models are all-wheel-drive and offer 536 horsepower, but which is the better fit for an imperious luxo-sedan? Greg Pajo, Car and Driver, 10 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'imperious.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Latin imperiōsus "exercising authority, domineering," from imperium "authority over family members and slaves exercised by the head of a household, supreme administrative authority, dominion" + -ōsus -ous — more at empire

First Known Use

1529, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of imperious was in 1529

Dictionary Entries Near imperious

Cite this Entry

“Imperious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


im·​pe·​ri·​ous im-ˈpir-ē-əs How to pronounce imperious (audio)
: behaving like someone who is a supreme ruler
: imperative entry 1 sense 2, urgent
the imperious problems of a new age
imperiously adverb
imperiousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on imperious

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