impetus

noun
im·​pe·​tus | \ ˈim-pə-təs How to pronounce impetus (audio) \

Definition of impetus

1a(1) : a driving force : impulse
b : stimulation or encouragement resulting in increased activity
2 : the property possessed by a moving body in virtue of its mass and its motion used of bodies moving suddenly or violently to indicate the origin and intensity of the motion

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Impetus Has Latin Roots

You already have plenty of incentive to learn the origin of "impetus," so we won't force the point. "Impetus" comes from Latin, where it means "attack or assault"; the verb "impetere" was formed by combining the prefix in- with petere, meaning "to go to or seek." "Petere" also gives us other words suggesting a forceful urging or momentum, such as "appetite," "perpetual," and "centripetal." "Impetus" describes the kind of force that encourages an action ("the impetus behind the project") or the momentum of an action already begun ("the meetings only gave impetus to the rumors of a merger").

Examples of impetus in a Sentence

In a revealing comment, Mr. Updike says an impetus for Rabbit, Run was the "threatening" success of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, the signature book of the 1950s Beat Generation, and its frenetic search for sensation. — Dennis Farney, Wall Street Journal, 16 Sept. 1992 But 1939 gave new impetus to the Western with the Cecil B. de Mille railway epic Union Pacific, John Ford's skillful and dramatic Stagecoach,  … and George Marshall's classic comic Western, Destry Rides Again. — Ira Konigsberg, The Complete Film Dictionary, 1987 … new techniques of navigation and shipbuilding enlarged trade and the geographical horizon; newly centralized power absorbed from the declining medieval communes was at the disposal of the monarchies and the growing nationalism of the past century gave it impetus — Barbara W. Tuchman, The March of Folly, 1984 His discoveries have given impetus to further research. the reward money should be sufficient impetus for someone to come forward with information about the robbery
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Recent Examples on the Web

In an excerpt from Good and Mad published in New York Magazine, Traister cites not only my personal favorite angry American woman, Abigail Adams, but the many times American women’s anger has been the impetus for social movements. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "With Kavanaugh Confirmed, It’s Time to Burn It Down," 6 Oct. 2018 Congress' examination of tech companies was the impetus for Pai's blog post. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Ajit Pai does ISPs’ bidding, pushes for tighter rules on Google and Facebook," 6 Sep. 2018 Still, an overwhelming number share hope that the election will bring about change — and many think their generation will be the impetus. Hannah Fingerhut, The Seattle Times, "AP-NORC/MTV Poll: Young people looking for younger leaders," 30 July 2018 The impetus for her escape seems to have been the discovery that Martha Washington planned to give her, as a human wedding present, to her unkind and tempestuous granddaughter, Eliza. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Speaking Plainly About Slavery," 18 Jan. 2019 He was designed by the freelance graphic designer Brian Allen; the impetus for creating Gritty, according to this Advertising Week article, was that the son of the Flyers’ COO asked why the team didn’t have a mascot in a city lousy with them. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Gritty’s evolution from googly-eyed hockey mascot to meme to leftist avatar, explained," 24 Dec. 2018 This lose-lose situation for survivors is the impetus behind Monday's #BelieveSurvivors walkout. Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, "Why People All Over the Country Are Staging a Walkout Today," 24 Sep. 2018 The fan base provided the impetus to push for an MLS franchise. Joe Kay, Pro Soccer USA, "MLS names FC Cincinnati latest expansion team," 29 May 2018 That fan base provided the impetus to push for an MLS franchise. Thom Craver, CBS News, "Cincinnati awarded MLS expansion team for 2019 season," 29 May 2018

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

1641, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for impetus

Latin, assault, impetus, from impetere to attack, from in- + petere to go to, seek — more at feather

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Statistics for impetus

Last Updated

6 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for impetus

The first known use of impetus was in 1641

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More Definitions for impetus

impetus

noun

English Language Learners Definition of impetus

: a force that causes something (such as a process or activity) to be done or to become more active
technical : a force that causes an object to begin moving or to continue to move

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More from Merriam-Webster on impetus

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for impetus

Spanish Central: Translation of impetus

Nglish: Translation of impetus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of impetus for Arabic Speakers

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