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

The clash is the latest instance of competing policy aims and political prerogatives leading to a stalemate on studying a pressing public-health issue. Fortune, "'And Then You Die.' Research on Deadly Opioid Fentanyl Blocked by Federal Stalemate," 19 Apr. 2018 The #MeToo movement will involve other sports teams, where too many employees believe that swaggering, testosterone-fueled behavior is a prerogative of the workplace. Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle, "Dallas Mavericks’ misogyny shows much work to be done," 21 Feb. 2018 The difference in New York is that the information would be passed on by Airbnb directly, and is no longer the host's prerogative (or choice, for that matter) to share. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "New York City Could Lose Many of Its 50,000 Airbnbs," 19 July 2018 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

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

11 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for prerogative

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

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More Definitions for prerogative



English Language Learners Definition of prerogative

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

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