impulse

verb
im·​pulse | \ ˈim-ˌpəls How to pronounce impulse (audio) , im-ˈpəls\
impulsed; impulsing

Definition of impulse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to give an impulse to

impulse

noun
im·​pulse | \ ˈim-ˌpəls How to pronounce impulse (audio) \

Definition of impulse (Entry 2 of 2)

b : a force so communicated as to produce motion suddenly
c : incentive
2a : the act of driving onward with sudden force : impulsion
b : motion produced by such an impulsion : impetus
c : a wave of excitation transmitted through tissues and especially nerve fibers and muscles that results in physiological activity or inhibition — see nerve impulse
3a : a sudden spontaneous inclination or incitement to some usually unpremeditated action
b : a propensity or natural tendency usually other than rational
4a : the product of the average value of a force and the time during which it acts : the change in momentum produced by the force

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Choose the Right Synonym for impulse

Noun

motive, impulse, incentive, inducement, spur, goad mean a stimulus to action. motive implies an emotion or desire operating on the will and causing it to act. a motive for the crime impulse suggests a driving power arising from personal temperament or constitution. buying on impulse incentive applies to an external influence (such as an expected reward) inciting to action. a bonus was offered as an incentive inducement suggests a motive prompted by the deliberate enticements or allurements of another. offered a watch as an inducement to subscribe spur applies to a motive that stimulates the faculties or increases energy or ardor. fear was a spur to action goad suggests a motive that keeps one going against one's will or desire. thought insecurity a goad to worker efficiency

Examples of impulse in a Sentence

Noun

He has to learn to control his impulses. the new auto factory was just the impulse that the local economy needed

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Women displayed way more brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, the region that deals with decision making, focus and impulse control. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Science Says Women Have a More Active Brain, Compared to Men," 8 Aug. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

At its core, though, Puritanism was a political impulse. Barton Swaim, WSJ, "‘Hot Protestants’ Review: Fevered Believers," 27 Mar. 2019 So watch it now! Streaming on Hulu Friday, April 26 Chambers: Uma Thurman and Tony Goldwyn star in this new drama series about a teenager who begins having sinister impulses after receiving a heart transplant. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "9 TV Shows and Movies To Put at the Top of Your To-Do List," 21 Apr. 2019 These will likely all be geared toward the needs of their specific cities and focus more on space planning than impulse buying. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "IKEA's First Manhattan Location Is Nothing Like Its Other Stores," 10 Apr. 2019 This time his tweet was based on more than personal impulse and makes sense for American and Israeli interests. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Israel’s Golan Heights," 21 Mar. 2019 With hyperburst, the G11’s recoil buffer prevented a strong recoil impulse from the three rounds, greatly improving accuracy over normal full-auto fire. Matthew Moss, Popular Mechanics, "We Got Our Hands on an HK G11, the Space-Age Rifle That Never Was," 20 Mar. 2019 Where other people might take offense, Hayek understands what underlies the impulse and is able to laugh it off. Elizabeth Day, Town & Country, "Salma Hayek Isn't Going to Let Anyone Define Her," 6 Mar. 2019 With recent feats by China in orbit and on the moon, the impulse among many Americans will be extreme pride verging on jingoism, and the return of the U.S. flag, stranded in orbit for the past eight years, will be a useful symbol. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "America Is About to Take Back Human Spaceflight, and It's a Lot More Than Just Flag-Waving," 4 Jan. 2019 That impulse toward simplicity was visible in interior design, too. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "How the Great Recession influenced a decade of design," 27 Dec. 2018

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

Verb

1611, in the meaning defined above

Noun

1647, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for impulse

Noun

Latin impulsus, from impellere to impel

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Statistics for impulse

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Time Traveler for impulse

The first known use of impulse was in 1611

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More Definitions for impulse

impulse

noun

English Language Learners Definition of impulse

: a sudden strong desire to do something
technical : a small amount of energy that moves from one area to another

impulse

noun
im·​pulse | \ ˈim-ˌpəls How to pronounce impulse (audio) \

Kids Definition of impulse

1 : a force that starts a body into motion
2 : the motion produced by a starting force
3 : a strong sudden desire to do something She resisted the impulse to shout.

impulse

noun
im·​pulse | \ ˈim-ˌpəls How to pronounce impulse (audio) \

Medical Definition of impulse

1 : a wave of excitation transmitted through tissues and especially nerve fibers and muscles that results in physiological activity or inhibition
2a : a sudden spontaneous inclination or incitement to some usually unpremeditated action some uncontrollable impulse…may have driven the defendant to the commission of the murderous act— B. N. Cardozo
b : a propensity or natural tendency usually other than rational the fundamental impulse of self-expression— Havelock Ellis

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More from Merriam-Webster on impulse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with impulse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for impulse

Spanish Central: Translation of impulse

Nglish: Translation of impulse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of impulse for Arabic Speakers

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