impulse

verb
im·​pulse | \ ˈim-ˌpəls, im-ˈpəls\
impulsed; impulsing

Definition of impulse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to give an impulse to

impulse

noun
im·​pulse | \ ˈim-ˌpəls \

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

The impulse to lower the temperature in the corner office isn’t crazy. Sam Walker, WSJ, "Goodbye Swaggering CEOs; Hello Mr. Rogers," 3 Nov. 2018 As parents, the impulse to protect our children is strong, but that very protection can end up handicapping them for life. Fox News, "'When Your Kid Is Hurting: Helping Your Child through the Tough Days' by Dr. Kevin Leman," 10 Sep. 2018 Mattis battled the president throughout his tenure over these issues and was long seen as a check on Trump’s worst foreign policy and national security impulses. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Mattis’s resignation was a scathing indictment of Trump’s foreign policy," 21 Dec. 2018 Apparently, Donald Trump’s disdain for the media has a seasonal version, this time manifesting in a Grinch-like impulse to cancel Christmas. Vogue, "The White House Christmas Party Is Canceled—For the Press, At Least," 13 Dec. 2018 Most smartphones use capacitive sensors, which detect the electrical impulses given off by a fingertip. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Meet Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855: AI boosts, a smarter camera, mobile gaming—and bye-bye, JPEG," 5 Dec. 2018 Businesses pay good money to prey on the fear of missing out, launching lightning deals that are sometimes only live for minutes at a time, achieving impulse sales that would be logistically impossible in brick-and-mortar stores. Rebekka Ayres, Teen Vogue, "Black Friday, Explained: A Complete History," 23 Nov. 2018 Whereas in the high-income countries, here in the US, and some places like in Europe, it’s driven by two impulses. Recode Staff, Recode, "Journalist and author Annie Lowrey wants you to understand that universal basic income isn’t crazy," 16 July 2018 But there’s a deeper impulse behind these restless excavations. Peter Jon Lindberg, Condé Nast Traveler, "Hanoi, Time and Again," 20 Nov. 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

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

impulse

noun
im·​pulse | \ ˈim-ˌpəls \

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 \

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

Comments on impulse

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