noun pre·rog·a·tive \pri-ˈrä-gə-tiv\

Definition of prerogative

  1. 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 sovereigntyb :  the discretionary power inhering in the British Crown

  2. 2 :  a distinctive excellence


play \-tivd\ adjective

prerogative was our Word of the Day on 12/22/2007. Hear the podcast!

Examples of prerogative in a sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. If you'd rather sell the tickets than use them, that's your prerogative.

  5. It's a writer's prerogative to decide the fate of her characters.

Did You Know?

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.

Origin and Etymology of prerogative

Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin praerogativa, Roman century voting first in the comitia, privilege, from feminine of praerogativus voting first, from praerogatus, past participle of praerogare to ask for an opinion before another, from prae- + rogare to ask — more at right

First Known Use: 15th century

PREROGATIVE Defined for English Language Learners


noun pre·rog·a·tive \pri-ˈrä-gə-tiv\

Definition of prerogative for English Language Learners

  • : a right or privilege; especially : a special right or privilege that some people have

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