im·​per·​ti·​nent (ˌ)im-ˈpər-tə-nənt How to pronounce impertinent (audio)
: given to or characterized by insolent rudeness
an impertinent answer
: not restrained within due or proper bounds especially of propriety or good taste
impertinent curiosity
: not pertinent : irrelevant
impertinently adverb

Did you know?

English speakers adopted both impertinent and pertinent from Anglo-French in the 14th century. Both words derive from the present participle of the Latin verb pertinēre, meaning "to pertain." Initially, impertinent was used for things that are simply not relevant. Over time, it came to be used of things that are not only irrelevant but rudely or inappropriately so, and later for people who are just straight-out rude.

Choose the Right Synonym for impertinent

impertinent, officious, meddlesome, intrusive, obtrusive mean given to thrusting oneself into the affairs of others.

impertinent implies exceeding the bounds of propriety in showing interest or curiosity or in offering advice.

resented their impertinent interference

officious implies the offering of services or attentions that are unwelcome or annoying.

officious friends made the job harder

meddlesome stresses an annoying and usually prying interference in others' affairs.

a meddlesome landlord

intrusive implies a tactless or otherwise objectionable thrusting into others' affairs.

tried to be helpful without being intrusive

obtrusive stresses improper or offensive conspicuousness of interfering actions.

expressed an obtrusive concern for his safety

Examples of impertinent in a Sentence

She asked a few impertinent questions. the impertinent child had a smart answer for everything
Recent Examples on the Web Beyond the Biennale, Christoph Büchel’s frenzied exhibition at the Fondazione Prada assembles mountains of junk and jewels into an impertinent exposé of wealth and debt, colonialism and collecting. Jason Farago, New York Times, 24 Apr. 2024 The initial inquiry about aftershave was impertinent and, as it was delivered to the whole room, could simply have been ignored. Jacobina Martin, Washington Post, 17 Apr. 2024 The third season of Slow Horses, Apple TV+’s magnificent, impertinent spy series, begins with a feint: two lovers chasing state secrets in Istanbul, followed by a thrilling boat chase across the Bosphorus that turns into a car chase that ends in tragedy. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 20 Dec. 2023 The big thing bugging Danny, though, is the impertinent presence of Roberta (Aubrey Plaza), who wants to move past drunken conversation and kick up some kind of romance. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, 20 Nov. 2023 Members of a generation who care more about etiquette would not write rude, impertinent letters in the first place. Jacobina Martin, Washington Post, 20 Oct. 2023 That used to be an easy—if impertinent—question to answer. April Long, Town & Country, 23 June 2023 This weirdly impertinent email came in response to a column guilty only of discussing why a carbon tax would be better than our current climate policies, and why such a tax seemed a heavy political lift only because of the abyss of rancorous tribalism into which the climate discussion has fallen. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, 10 June 2022 Yet somehow, the idea persists that actually asking for it is impertinent. Eben Weiss, Outside Online, 2 Mar. 2023

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

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin impertinent-, impertinens, from Latin in- + pertinent-, pertinens, present participle of pertinēre to pertain

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of impertinent was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near impertinent

Cite this Entry

“Impertinent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


im·​per·​ti·​nent (ˈ)im-ˈpərt-ᵊn-ənt How to pronounce impertinent (audio)
: insolent, rude
an impertinent reply
impertinently adverb

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