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

Example Sentences

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
With more than 500 female conductors from 40 nations having applied to the initiative, this season’s forthcoming event is certain to be multifaceted and thrilling. Dallas News, 19 Jan. 2023 Fidelity Investments will commit $250 million to a new education initiative to support up to 50,000 underserved minority students with scholarships and mentorship programs in the next five years. Glenn Gamboa, Fortune, 17 Jan. 2023 Much of the evidence for this theory — including Gatti’s air-​sample studies — emerged thanks to a groundbreaking initiative led by Nobre himself. Alex Cuadros, New York Times, 4 Jan. 2023 This campaign gives you the opportunity to contribute to our first initiative and positively impact children who have been hardest hit by the pandemic. Dave Clark, The Enquirer, 3 Jan. 2023 The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, a nonprofit that is funding manatee-feeding efforts, also is committing more than $2 million to an initiative to plant vegetation in the lagoon, said spokeswoman Michelle Ashton. Arian Campo-flores, WSJ, 25 Dec. 2022 The state’s chief business lobby also gave a preliminary endorsement to Osten’s initiative. Keith M. Phaneuf, Hartford Courant, 15 Dec. 2022 That law would also revert back to the petition initiative’s original intent. Arpan Lobo, Detroit Free Press, 13 Dec. 2022 Twitter Blue lived for about a day on the iPhone as an in-app purchase option, as impersonators dealt a devastating and very public humiliation to Musk’s initiative. Chris Smith, BGR, 8 Dec. 2022
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 See More

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.

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 1 Feb. 2023.

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

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