1

impulse

verb im·pulse \ ˈim-ˌpəls , im-ˈpəls \
Updated on: 12 Dec 2017

Definition of impulse

impulsed; impulsing
transitive verb
: to give an impulse to

Recent Examples of impulse from the Web

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.

First Known Use of impulse

1611


2

impulse

noun im·pulse \ ˈim-ˌpəls \

Definition of impulse

b : a force so communicated as to produce motion suddenly
c : incentive
2 a : 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
3 a : a sudden spontaneous inclination or incitement to some usually unpremeditated action
b : a propensity or natural tendency usually other than rational
4 a : the product of the average value of a force and the time during which it acts : the change in momentum produced by the force
b : pulse 4a

Examples of impulse in a Sentence

  1. He has to learn to control his impulses.

  2. the new auto factory was just the impulse that the local economy needed

Recent Examples of impulse from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of impulse

Latin impulsus, from impellere to impel

Synonym Discussion of impulse

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

IMPULSE Defined for English Language Learners

impulse

noun

Definition of impulse for English Language Learners

  • : a sudden strong desire to do something

  • : a small amount of energy that moves from one area to another


IMPULSE Defined for Kids

impulse

noun im·pulse \ ˈim-ˌpəls \

Definition of impulse for Students

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.

Medical Dictionary

impulse

noun im·pulse \ ˈim-ˌpəls \

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
2 a : 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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