initiative

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

Essential Meaning of initiative

1 : the power or opportunity to do something before others do 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. By failing to get its products to the market on schedule, the company has lost the initiative (to its competitors).
2 : the energy and desire that is needed to do something She has ability but lacks initiative. [=drive]
3 : a plan or program that is intended to solve a problem The governor has proposed a new initiative to improve conditions in urban schools. anti-poverty initiatives

Full Definition of initiative

 (Entry 1 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

initiative

adjective
\ i-ˈni-shə-tiv How to pronounce initiative (audio) also -shē-ə-tiv \

Definition of initiative (Entry 2 of 2)

: of or relating to initiation : introductory, preliminary

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Synonyms for initiative

Synonyms: Noun

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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 Key communiques to staff should include mailers that introduce the initiative and its key objectives, features of the WFM tools deployed, and detailed instructions. Manish Purang, Forbes, 12 Oct. 2021 The One Million Black Women initiative has set out to make investments in businesses and companies that are working on issues that span across a Black woman's life. Declan Harty, Fortune, 12 Oct. 2021 Instead, the Colts seized the initiative and seemed determined to humiliate their hosts underneath the Monday night lights. Childs Walker, baltimoresun.com, 12 Oct. 2021 America escaped from its 1970s decline by returning to its historic model of liberating private initiative and enterprise. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 6 Oct. 2021 Three other states have seen public health powers reduced, via an executive order, a ballot initiative and a ruling by the state Supreme Court. Karen Kaplan Science And Medicine Editor, Los Angeles Times, 21 Sep. 2021 The project will be developed within The Nature Conservancy’s Cumberland Forest Project, a land conservation initiative launched in 2019, and adjacent areas. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 16 Sep. 2021 On Wednesday, school officials announced a new testing initiative that began this week to reduce virus spread and the need for potential quarantines. Washington Post, 13 Sep. 2021 The initiative and referendum powers are reserved to the people of the city on all questions which the council is authorized to control by legislative action; such powers shall be exercised in the manner provided by the laws of the state of Ohio. Scott Wartman, The Enquirer, 9 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Cuomo correctly assessed that as the nation reckoned with active anti-initiative from the federal government, competence itself could become its own kind of sell. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, 5 Mar. 2021 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, 30 July 2019 The girl of now initiative highlights women’s success stories in various fields. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, 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, 30 July 2019 The girl of now initiative highlights women’s success stories in various fields. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, 23 May 2018 The girl of now initiative highlights women’s success stories in various fields. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, 23 May 2018 The girl of now initiative highlights women’s success stories in various fields. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, 23 May 2018 The girl of now initiative highlights women’s success stories in various fields. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, 23 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of initiative

Noun

1793, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1605, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for initiative

Noun

see initiate entry 1

Adjective

see initiate entry 1

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Learn More About initiative

Time Traveler for initiative

Time Traveler

The first known use of initiative was in 1605

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Dictionary Entries Near initiative

initiation rite

initiative

initiatory

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Statistics for initiative

Last Updated

14 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Initiative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/initiative. Accessed 21 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for initiative

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)

More from Merriam-Webster on initiative

Nglish: Translation of initiative for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of initiative for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about initiative

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