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

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 How to pronounce prerogatived (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for prerogative


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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 How schools and hospitals are organized in a time of crisis is the prerogative of each state, however, many still turned to the EU for guidance on how to react to the pandemic. Dominique Soguel, The Christian Science Monitor, "Coronavirus response puts EU solidarity to the test," 22 Apr. 2020 The prerogative of civilian leaders to decide military matters is a key tenet of American constitutional governance and healthy civilian-military relations, but how this is done and for what reasons matters greatly to military readiness. Jason Dempsey, The New Republic, "How Donald Trump Ruined the Navy," 13 Apr. 2020 Both Republicans and Democrats who sponsored the resolution insisted that the measure was not intended to tie Mr. Trump’s hands, but to reassert Congress’s constitutional prerogatives on matters of war. Catie Edmondson, New York Times, "In Bipartisan Bid to Restrain Trump, Senate Passes Iran War Powers Resolution," 13 Feb. 2020 Both Republicans and Democrats who sponsored the resolution insisted that the measure was not intended to tie Trump’s hands but to reassert Congress’ constitutional prerogatives on matters of war. Catie Edmondson,, "In bipartisan bid to restrain Trump, Senate passes Iran War Powers Resolution," 13 Feb. 2020 There are problems with this theory, starting with the President’s constitutional prerogatives to conduct foreign policy under Article II. Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker, "In His Dealings with Ukraine, Did Donald Trump Commit a Crime?," 2 Nov. 2019 But few leaders were willing to take aim publicly at a choice that is always the prerogative of the summit host nation. Michael Birnbaum, Washington Post, "Trump’s decision to host G-7 at his golf club creates awkwardness for world leaders," 18 Oct. 2019 That is the prerogative of the House of Representatives. al, "Senator Doug Jones: ‘Smoking gun’ unlikely in impeachment inquiry," 26 Sep. 2019 Being progressive doesn’t mean that one’s race or gender ceases to matter in one’s leadership style and prerogatives, especially not in a world where gender and race are always presumed to matter for how women and people of color will govern. Time, "It Matters That Elizabeth Warren Is a Woman. Why Do So Many on the Left Insist That It Doesn't?," 16 Jan. 2020

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 Roman century 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

14 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prerogative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for prerogative


How to pronounce prerogative (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of prerogative

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

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