Definition of importunate
- importunate creditors
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the demands of the chairmanship were becoming too importunate for me to continue without an assistant
Importunate has been part of the English language since the 16th century, and the synonymous "importune" arrived even earlier, in the 15th century. The seemingly superfluous inclusion of the suffix -ate in "importunate" is a bit mysterious; one theory is that English speakers modeled the adjective after words like "obstinate." "Importune" and "importunate" come from Latin importunus. The prefix im- means "not," and "importunus" can be contrasted with Latin opportunus, which shares its meaning with and is the ancestor of our opportune, meaning "suitable or timely." (The connection is obscure now, but "opportunus" itself harks back to the Latin phrase ob portum, meaning "[coming] to harbor.") "Importune," and later "importunate," once meant "inopportune, untimely," but that sense is now obsolete.
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