initiative

1 of 2

noun

ini·​tia·​tive i-ˈni-shə-tiv How to pronounce initiative (audio)
 also  -shē-ə-tiv
1
: an introductory step
took the initiative in attempting to settle the issue
2
: energy or aptitude displayed in initiation of action : enterprise
showed great initiative
3
a
: the right to initiate legislative action
b
: a procedure enabling a specified number of voters by petition to propose a law and secure its submission to the electorate or to the legislature for approval compare referendum sense 1

initiative

2 of 2

adjective

: of or relating to initiation : introductory, preliminary
Phrases
on one's own initiative
: at one's own discretion : independently of outside influence or control

Examples of initiative in a Sentence

Noun … on the day before their Club Med flight she took the initiative of telephoning Franco from work, ostensibly to tell him that she had really admired his new place … John Barth, Atlantic, March 1995
Following initiatives begun before the First World War, thirty-four states instituted or expanded workers' compensation laws in the 1920s. Mary Beth Norton et al., A People and a Nation, 1988
Since the social victim has been oppressed by society, he comes to feel that his individual life will be improved more by changes in society than by his own initiative. Shelby Steele, Harper's, June 1988
If you want to meet her, you're going to have to take the initiative and introduce yourself. The company has the opportunity to seize the initiative by getting its new products to the market before its competitors. The governor has proposed a new initiative to improve conditions in urban schools. Adjective Luther's daring initiative thoughts did indeed come from above, but he owed them to no man or age. Junius B. Remensnyder, What the World Owes Luther, 1917
Many writers maintain that there is a rule of International Law forbidding the commencement of war without a declaration of war. But such rule, in fact, does not exist, for a great many wars take place without an initiative declaration of war. Lassa Oppenheim, International Law, 1906
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The latest infusion of funding for Ryan White, which has totaled $466 million since 2019, came as part of a federal initiative to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. Sam Whitehead, NPR, 15 June 2024 The location will be the venue for talks, seminars and initiatives related to the theme of ecology, sustainability and social ethics since Goooders also offers consultancy for lifestyle and hospitality brands that want to undertake an ethical and sustainable path. Andrea Onate, WWD, 15 June 2024
Adjective
The initiative also spurred groups on both sides of the debate, including the anti-initiative National Restaurant Association, to open their pockets. Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2022 The initiative also spurred groups on both sides of the debate, including the anti-initiative National Restaurant Association, to open their pockets. Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2022 See all Example Sentences for initiative 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'initiative.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

see initiate entry 1

Adjective

see initiate entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

1793, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1605, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of initiative was in 1605

Dictionary Entries Near initiative

Cite this Entry

“Initiative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/initiative. Accessed 24 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

initiative

noun
ini·​tia·​tive
in-ˈish-ət-iv
1
: a first step or movement
take the initiative in becoming acquainted
2
: energy shown in initiating something
has ability but lacks initiative
3
: a plan or program intended to solve a problem

Legal Definition

initiative

noun
ini·​tia·​tive i-ˈni-shə-tiv, -shē-ə-tiv How to pronounce initiative (audio)
1
: the especially introductory series of steps taken to cause a desired result
the deposing party would ordinarily be required to take the initiative in arranging a depositionAndrews v. Bradshaw, 895 P.2d 973 (1995)
2
a
: the right to initiate legislative action
b
: a procedure enabling a specified number of voters by petition to propose a law and secure its submission to the electorate or to the legislature for approval see also referendum

More from Merriam-Webster on initiative

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