pre·​rog·​a·​tive | \ pri-ˈrä-gə-tiv How to pronounce prerogative (audio) \

Essential Meaning of prerogative

formal : a right or privilege If you'd rather sell the tickets than use them, that's your prerogative. It's a writer's prerogative to decide the fate of her characters. especially : a special right or privilege that some people have presidential prerogatives [=the rights or privileges a president has]

Full Definition of prerogative

1a : an exclusive or special right, power, or privilege: such as
(1) : one belonging to an office or an official body
(2) : one belonging to a person, group, or class of individuals
(3) : one possessed by a nation as an attribute of sovereignty
b : the discretionary power inhering in the British Crown
2 : a distinctive excellence

Other Words from prerogative

prerogatived \ pri-​ˈrä-​gə-​tivd How to pronounce prerogative (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for prerogative


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In ancient Rome, voting at legal assemblies was done by group, with the majority in a group determining its vote. The group chosen to vote first on an issue was called the "praerogativa" (that term traces to a verb meaning "to ask for an opinion before another"). Because the first vote was considered to be of great importance, Latin speakers also used the noun "praerogativa" to mean "preference" and later "privilege." As "praerogativa" passed through Anglo-French and Middle English, its spelling shifted to create the noun we know today.

Examples of prerogative in a Sentence

That sense that the future may not last for long is often assumed to be a prerogative of youth, the dialectical complement of another misconception the young are noted for—the conviction that they are immortal. — Thomas M. Disch, Atlantic, February 1992 More important than any of this, he offered himself as an incarnation of constitutional propriety so that, temperamentally stubborn, he was careful never to exceed the limits of a prerogative overexploited by the later Stuarts. — Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches, 1988 The secularization of the Presidency is indispensable for the reassertion of congressional and popular prerogative. — Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Cycles of American History, 1986 If you'd rather sell the tickets than use them, that's your prerogative. It's a writer's prerogative to decide the fate of her characters.
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Recent Examples on the Web But the Biden administration has declined to support his claim to executive privilege, arguing that there is no such prerogative for documents related to an attempt to undermine democracy and the presidency itself. New York Times, 8 Nov. 2021 Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman says that’s Isaac’s prerogative. Chris Hays,, 27 Sep. 2021 Some members of the CDC advisory group are upset, but the consensus is that the decision was Walensky's prerogative as director., 24 Sep. 2021 If people are going to keep being suspicious of this organization, that’s their prerogative and their priority. Matt Young, Chron, 11 Oct. 2021 This leaves employers wrestling with the knotty issue of where to draw the line between individual prerogative and the common good. Shwanika Narayan, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 Oct. 2021 But this is a private entity taking the prerogative on its own. Robert Gehrke, The Salt Lake Tribune, 1 Oct. 2021 Lightfoot issued an executive order banning aldermanic prerogative on May 20, 2019, her first day as mayor, but according to the Chicago Sun-Times, the mayor has still faced challenges with eliminating it. Bayliss Wagner, USA TODAY, 1 Oct. 2021 Speaking up is both personal prerogative and a duty to the bond. Washington Post, 28 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prerogative.' 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 prerogative

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for prerogative

Middle English prerogatif, prerogative, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin praerogātīva "the century (Roman voting unit) on which the lot fell to vote first, the verdict of that century (seen as predicting the outcome of the whole vote), omen, prior choice, prior right or claim," (short for centuria praerogātīva "century voting first"), from feminine of praerogātīvus "appointed by lot to vote first," from prae- pre- + rogātus, past participle of rogāre "to ask, ask (an assembly for a decision)" + -īvus -ive — more at rogation

Note: Latin praerogātīvus was probably formed in the manner indicated, rather than as a derivative of praerogāre "to ask or propose beforehand, pay in advance," not attested before the 4th century a.d.

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The first known use of prerogative was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

25 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prerogative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on prerogative

Nglish: Translation of prerogative for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prerogative for Arabic Speakers


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