im·​pe·​ri·​ous | \ im-ˈpir-ē-əs How to pronounce imperious (audio) \

Definition of imperious

1a : befitting or characteristic of one of eminent rank or attainments : commanding, dominant an imperious manner
b : marked by arrogant assurance : domineering
2 : intensely compelling : urgent the imperious problems of the new age— J. F. Kennedy

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from imperious

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 Company insiders have described him as increasingly haughty and imperious. Michael Corkery, New York Times, "Carlos Ghosn Defends His Legacy," 8 Jan. 2020 In Inside Llewyn Davis’s best and most crushing scene, Llewyn auditions for imperious manager Bud Grossman (F. Murray Abraham) by pouring his soul into an impassioned solo performance. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The 10 Best Movie Scenes of the 2010s," 31 Dec. 2019 In The Magic Flute, the Queen of the Night presents the type of female dominance found in most fairy tales and operas: imperious, cruel, destroying all in her path. Amy Lorette Damron Kyle, Quartz, "The feminist reboot opera deserves," 20 Dec. 2019 Sarah Paulson rose to stardom off her turn as investigative journalist Lana Winters, and Jessica Lange corroded marvelously as the imperious-yet-fragile Sister Jude. Darren Franich,, "The best TV shows of the decade," 5 Dec. 2019 By its nature, a distant, imperious state tends to abridge the authority of smaller centers of power: the town-hall meeting, local charitable organizations, the parish, the family, and the individual. John Hirschauer, National Review, "The Leonines and the Libertarians," 4 Dec. 2019 Curtis, in particular, dominates as the imperious Linda. John Wenzel, The Know, "Review: “Knives Out” is a dazzling, witty murder mystery in an age of franchises," 28 Nov. 2019 Those are toplined by Mirren at her imperious best, but also Clarke, Richard Roxburgh and Rory Kinnear as a particularly officious advisor. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Catherine the Great' crowns Helen Mirren (again) for regal miniseries," 21 Oct. 2019 Bernheimer led an epic battle with Ernest Fleischmann, the imperious, visionary executive director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: With withering wit, The Times’ irrepressible Martin Bernheimer transformed criticism," 1 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'imperious.' 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 imperious

1529, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for imperious

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about imperious

Time Traveler for imperious

Time Traveler

The first known use of imperious was in 1529

See more words from the same year

Statistics for imperious

Last Updated

17 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Imperious.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 17 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for imperious


How to pronounce imperious (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of imperious

formal : having or showing the proud and unpleasant attitude of someone who gives orders and expects other people to obey them

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on imperious

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for imperious

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with imperious

Spanish Central: Translation of imperious

Nglish: Translation of imperious for Spanish Speakers

Comments on imperious

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


a plan in which a last survivor takes all

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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