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

There’s strong impetus from both sides for getting a deal done, as Uber seeks to lock up the market before it’s fully formed, and the budding unicorn startups work to secure the funding to match their hyperaccelerated growth. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Trump and Xi Jinping reach a temporary trade-war truce," 3 Dec. 2018 But what if more sexist societies—ones with bigger differences in how people think about and treat men and women—were the ones where women had a bigger and earlier impetus to start campaigning for their rights? Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Why figuring out what’s behind a big gender paradox won’t be easy," 18 Oct. 2018 The dynamism of the wireless headphones market is driven by an obvious impetus: demand continues to grow at a rapid pace, and so supply — and, importantly, the quality of the goods being supplied — is trying to keep pace. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "Wireless headphones are improving faster than anything else in tech," 31 Aug. 2018 Perhaps the Karnataka results will be the impetus required to bring about change. Kamakshi Ayyar, Time, "Here's What a Recent State-Level Vote Reveals About India's 2019 General Elections," 24 May 2018 Showrunner Krista Vernoff talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the impetus for the episode's little twist. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Grey's Anatomy Brought Back a Bunch of Familiar Faces for Last Night's Episode," 2 Nov. 2018 For a long time, our imperfection, the fact that we might be revealed not to have perfectly walked the tightrope of female respectability, has been an impetus for women to remain silent. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "With Kavanaugh Confirmed, It’s Time to Burn It Down," 6 Oct. 2018 Soyuncu's potential arrival at the Emirates could be just what is needed in the Gunners' efforts to add fresh impetus, solidarity and numbers to their defensive ranks ahead of next season. SI.com, "Arsenal Fans React to News That Caglar Soyuncu Could Be Heading to the Emirates This Summer," 16 May 2018 The impetus for leaving the New England Patriots’ emblem behind came last summer. Steve Reaven, chicagotribune.com, "Stevenson adopts new logo to replace the Patriot after students cite 'plagiarism'," 18 June 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

11 Dec 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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