initiative

adjective
ini·​tia·​tive | \ i-ˈni-shə-tiv also -shē-ə-tiv How to pronounce initiative (audio) \

Definition of initiative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to initiation : introductory, preliminary

initiative

noun
ini·​tia·​tive | \ i-ˈni-shə-tiv also -shē-ə-tiv How to pronounce initiative (audio) \

Definition of initiative (Entry 2 of 2)

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
3a : 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
on one's own initiative
: at one's own discretion : independently of outside influence or control

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for initiative

Synonyms: Noun

action, aggressiveness, ambition, drive, enterprise, go, hustle

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of initiative in a Sentence

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

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Paizo undertook relatively significant changes to the skill system, how initiative order is determined, and the iconic critical success and critical failure criteria. Sam Ferguson, Ars Technica, "How to follow-up Pathfinder? Improve the game, don’t radically change its character," 30 July 2019 The girl of now initiative highlights women’s success stories in various fields. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "I dream of caftans," 23 May 2018 Paizo undertook relatively significant changes to the skill system, how initiative order is determined, and the iconic critical success and critical failure criteria. Sam Ferguson, Ars Technica, "How to follow-up Pathfinder? Improve the game, don’t radically change its character," 30 July 2019 The girl of now initiative highlights women’s success stories in various fields. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "I dream of caftans," 23 May 2018 The girl of now initiative highlights women’s success stories in various fields. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "I dream of caftans," 23 May 2018 The girl of now initiative highlights women’s success stories in various fields. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "I dream of caftans," 23 May 2018 The girl of now initiative highlights women’s success stories in various fields. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "I dream of caftans," 23 May 2018 The girl of now initiative highlights women’s success stories in various fields. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "I dream of caftans," 23 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

On top of that, about 500,000 children could lose access to free lunch programs that are linked to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the formal name for the food-stamp initiative. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "Why the U.S. may soon spend more on its debt than on kids," 17 Sep. 2019 Cicely Fleming will serve on the city council subcommittee to address the feasibility of the equity and empowerment commission’s recommendations for reparations initiatives. Jennifer Fisher, chicagotribune.com, "As Evanston’s black population continues to drop, city officials will study reparations initiatives," 13 Sep. 2019 At the same time, California voters have approved measures to raise money for homeless initiatives. Scott Wilson, Washington Post, "Trump’s proposals to tackle California homelessness face local, legal obstacles," 12 Sep. 2019 Givens runs the Givens Back Foundation, which supports inner-city baseball and education programs, as well as providing support for several team initiatives. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles and manager Brandon Hyde admire Dodgers’ platoon system," 11 Sep. 2019 Plant trees for a reforestation initiative, paint murals at local schools, and spend time with community members working on solutions to promote wildlife conservation. National Geographic, "Madagascar Community Service: Biodiversity Protection," 10 Sep. 2019 Now the other executive most prominently associated with the cover-up, Peter Cohen, has been put on leave from his current job as director of development for computer science and data initiatives at Brown University. Fortune, "Tina Turner Doesn’t Feel Like Part of the #MeToo Movement: Broadsheet," 10 Sep. 2019 The city eventually leased a Star of Hope warehouse for the initiative, which is now home to the sobering center. Tracy Maness, Houston Chronicle, "Houston Recovery Center offers different kind of help," 6 Sep. 2019 His guests include Trojans greats like Anthony Muñoz and Lawrence Jackson, who will help Smith-Schuster raise $97,000 on this night for initiatives like his Boys & Girls Club’s bikes project. Michael Mcknight, SI.com, "Much Ado About JuJu," 4 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'initiative.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of initiative

Adjective

1605, in the meaning defined above

Noun

1793, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for initiative

Adjective

see initiate entry 1

Noun

see initiate entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about initiative

Statistics for initiative

Last Updated

24 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for initiative

The first known use of initiative was in 1605

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for initiative

initiative

noun

English Language Learners Definition of initiative

: the power or opportunity to do something before others do
: the energy and desire that is needed to do something
: a plan or program that is intended to solve a problem

initiative

noun
ini·​tia·​tive | \ i-ˈni-shə-tiv How to pronounce initiative (audio) \

Kids Definition of initiative

1 : a first step or movement I took the initiative and called first.
2 : energy shown in getting action started He's a person of great initiative.

initiative

noun
ini·​tia·​tive | \ i-ˈni-shə-tiv, -shē-ə-tiv How to pronounce initiative (audio) \

Legal Definition of initiative

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)
2a : 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
on one's own initiative
: at one's own discretion : independently of outside influence, suggestion, or control the court may reduce a sentence on its own initiativeGhrist v. People, 897 P.2d 809 (1995)

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on initiative

What made you want to look up initiative? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

tired or exhausted

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!