impetus

noun
im·pe·tus | \ ˈim-pə-təs \

Definition of impetus 

1a(1) : a driving force : impulse

(2) : incentive, stimulus

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

Would funds have been available without the impetus of an international spectacle? Warren Mabee, Smithsonian, "In a World Striving To Cut Carbon Emissions, Do the Olympics Make Sense?," 16 Feb. 2018 The assault and its aftermath became one of the most controversial moments in American history, and would later serve as the impetus of the far deadlier Oklahoma City Bombing. John-henry Perera, Houston Chronicle, "25 years later, a look back at the Waco siege and Branch Davidians," 10 Jan. 2018 Jackson’s slaying was an impetus for the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march later that year. Jay Reeves, BostonGlobe.com, "Government probing ‘new information’ in Emmett Till slaying," 12 July 2018 The giant stockpile of assets parked on central banks’ balance sheets will provide a bigger impetus to spending as the world returns to normal and neutral interest rates go up. Enda Curran, Bloomberg.com, "Easy Money Era Endures Even as Central Banks Unwind Stimulus," 17 June 2018 Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal was not the impetus for the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (G.D.P.R.)—one of the strictest data-privacy laws passed anywhere to date. Maya Kosoff, The Hive, "America Just Took a Step Toward Adopting Europe’s Strict Internet Privacy Laws," 29 June 2018 With age not on the side of current central defensive options Phil Jagielka and Ashley Williams at Everton, 23-year-old Mina could be an ideal signing to inject fresh impetus into the core of Marco Silva’s defence. SI.com, "Everton Plotting Ambitious Double Swoop for Barcelona Defensive Stars Ahead of New Season," 13 July 2018 With both Russia and Iran on the winning side, there’s also a new impetus for Israel to court Russia and come to terms with Mr. Assad’s political survival. Dina Kraft, The Christian Science Monitor, "Syrian civil war, on Israel's doorstep, brings swirl of changing attitudes," 11 July 2018 Whether the king’s unusual personal interest gave added impetus to the effort is unclear. Richard C. Paddock, New York Times, "How Rescuers Pulled Off the Impossible in a Treacherous Thai Cave," 10 July 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

18 Sep 2018

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

: 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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