noun pre·rog·a·tive \ pri-ˈrä-gə-tiv \
|Updated on: 7 Aug 2018

Definition of prerogative

1 a : 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


play \pri-ˈrä-gə-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. DischAtlanticFebruary 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 SchamaThe Embarrassment of Riches1988
  3. The secularization of the Presidency is indispensable for the reassertion of congressional and popular prerogative. —Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.The Cycles of American History1986
  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.

Recent Examples of prerogative from the Web

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.

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

prerogative Synonyms

PREROGATIVE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of prerogative for English Language Learners

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

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


subject to rapid or unexpected change

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens-painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!