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

But perhaps a bigger impetus, officials and residents here say, has been economics, especially poverty and the lack of good jobs. New York Times, "‘I Didn’t Want Them to Go’: Salvadoran Family Grieves for Father and Daughter Who Drowned," 28 June 2019 Yet the cliff is still a few years away, and without immediate impetus, the debate remains focused on other issues. Jay Newton-small, Time, "The First 2020 Democratic Primary Debate Will Almost Certainly Skip A Key Healthcare Issue," 26 June 2019 The impetus to resurrect the tree came from a group of chestnut enthusiasts — of European descent — who saw it as an important piece of U.S. heritage. Julia Rosen, latimes.com, "Should we resurrect the American chestnut tree with genetic engineering?," 25 June 2019 And consider, finally, the new impetus that robotic chauffeurs could inject into urban sprawl. Andrew Moore, National Geographic, "To build the cities of the future, we must get out of our cars," 17 June 2019 Although the movement may have outlived its original impetus, there are undoubtedly still things to protest. Stephen Paduano, The New Republic, "The Limits of Outrage Politics," 13 June 2019 Insufficient cash flow was often the impetus, said the late Kevin Towers, who was the team’s GM from late 1995 through 2009. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Wil Myers remains interesting piece to Padres puzzle," 12 June 2019 Another impetus: the ongoing discussion in Europe over whether to impose taxes or other restrictions on tires that exceed certain decibel limits. Nick Stockton, WIRED, "Bridgestone's New Tire Makes Driving Electric as Quiet as It Should Be," 5 June 2019 When a California community burns, there is an impetus, and an imperative, to rebuild quickly, and to keep the community relatively intact. Susie Cagle, Curbed, "California’s changing fire country," 10 Oct. 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

10 Jul 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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