impulse

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

Definition of impulse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a sudden spontaneous inclination or incitement to some usually unpremeditated action
b : a propensity or natural tendency usually other than rational
2a : a wave of excitation transmitted through tissues and especially nerve fibers and muscles that results in physiological activity or inhibition — see nerve impulse
b : the act of driving onward with sudden force : impulsion
c : motion produced by such an impulsion : impetus
b : 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 : a force so communicated as to produce motion suddenly
c : incentive

impulse

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

Definition of impulse (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to give an impulse to

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: Noun Naturally the businesses that sell slushies see them differently, as high-margin impulse buys, tweaked to maximize the flow of capital. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, 30 Apr. 2022 For people with BFRBs, urges to pluck hair and pick skin can feel irresistible – like the impulse to scratch a mosquito bite. ELLE, 28 Apr. 2022 Many of us at various points in our careers have had the impulse to seek out work that feels more meaningful. Joshua Mahoney, Fortune, 18 Apr. 2022 Other errors followed, flowing largely from the impulse to maintain a positive US-Russia relationship. John Harwood, CNN, 10 Apr. 2022 In a tearful, nearly six-minute acceptance speech, the actor suggested that, like his character in the film, he had been driven by the impulse to protect his family and offered an apology to the academy and his fellow nominees, but not to Rock. Josh Rottenberg, Los Angeles Times, 31 Mar. 2022 That impulse has kept banks in places like China and Saudi Arabia, where opportunity has outweighed human-rights concerns. David Benoit, WSJ, 11 Mar. 2022 The annoying impulse repeats itself over and over again through the young hadrosaur’s body. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 26 Apr. 2022 And homages to them and their work spring from the same redemptive impulse as the proliferation of Holocaust museums, memorials and memoirs. Julia M. Klein, WSJ, 22 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb According to Gyllander, her audience doesn’t want to impulse-buy products algorithmically served to them between wedding photos. Leah Prinzivalli, Outside Online, 22 Apr. 2020 Cutler, who frequently posts on the group, says that a lot of posts are from people who have recently impulse-purchased chickens, not knowing what to do with them, and that a lot of the birds being put up for sale are clearly sick. Dallas News, 22 Apr. 2020 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, 8 Aug. 2017 See More

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

Noun

1647, in the meaning defined at sense 4a

Verb

1611, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for impulse

Noun

Latin impulsus, from impellere to impel

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Time Traveler for impulse

Time Traveler

The first known use of impulse was in 1611

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Dictionary Entries Near impulse

impuissant

impulse

impulse buying

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Statistics for impulse

Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Impulse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/impulse. Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for impulse

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

More from Merriam-Webster on impulse

Nglish: Translation of impulse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of impulse for Arabic Speakers

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