pre·​rog·​a·​tive | \pri-ˈrä-gə-tiv \

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

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Other Words from prerogative

prerogatived \ pri-​ˈrä-​gə-​tivd \ adjective

Synonyms for prerogative


appanage (also apanage), birthright, right

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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.

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

Barrett called the measure, which failed to pass the state Senate, an attack on local control. 'The mayor's prerogative' In the past year, the commission has flexed its oversight power in a way rarely seen before. Mary Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Mayor Tom Barrett wants to shake up the board that oversees the Milwaukee Police and Fire Departments. Not everyone agrees with him," 21 June 2018 Speculatively, that may signal a belief that neither Bamba or Jackson, the two players who best fit Orlando’s prerogative, will fall to six. Jeremy Woo,, "2018 NBA Mock Draft 11.0: Trade Rumors and Final Picks for Both Rounds," 21 June 2018 If someone popular or someone that people are paying attention to wants to share their thoughts with fans and with people – that’s their prerogative. Morgan M. Evans, Fox News, "John Oates, of Hall & Oates, recalls wild moments on tour and explains why they aren't working on a new album," 28 June 2018 But such secrecy, said Dan Cryan, executive director of research at IHS Markit, a media analysis firm, is the company’s prerogative — perhaps even a canny way to keep the upper hand in negotiations with partners. Daniel Arkin /, NBC News, "Apple's script for conquering Hollywood is a mystery so far," 13 July 2018 Faculty said warnings should be the exclusive prerogative of individual instructors. Anne Ryman, azcentral, "Maricopa colleges get complaints over showing 'The Last Temptation of Christ' in class," 7 June 2018 Spranger began one response by referring to prerogatives of her job that were taken away last year by other county officials, through rulings against her in Macomb Circuit Court. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Macomb County clerk Karen Spranger brings her conspiracy claims before a federal judge," 27 Feb. 2018 That is his prerogative as a citizen of the United States. David Streitfeld, New York Times, "Tech Was Supposed to Get Political. It’s Hanging Back in This Election.," 1 June 2018 Fourth, Congress could act to pass legislation that allows companies to communicate more freely and/or limits the FDA’s regulatory prerogative. John Osborn, STAT, "FDA allows off-label health care economic discussions. Is there more to come?," 29 June 2018

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, 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

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Last Updated

30 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for prerogative

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

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English Language Learners Definition of prerogative

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

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Comments on prerogative

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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