stim·​u·​lus | \ ˈstim-yə-ləs How to pronounce stimulus (audio) \
plural stimuli\ ˈstim-​yə-​ˌlī How to pronounce stimuli (audio) , -​ˌlē \

Definition of stimulus

: something that rouses or incites to activity: such as
c : an agent (such as an environmental change) that directly influences the activity of a living organism or one of its parts (as by exciting a sensory organ or evoking muscular contraction or glandular secretion)

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Examples of stimulus in a Sentence

The pay raise was a stimulus for production. Heat and light are physical stimuli. The dog responded to the stimulus of the ringing bell.
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Recent Examples on the Web The federal stimulus this spring provided $900 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP. Kris Maher, WSJ, "More Homes Are Going Dark as Moratoriums on Utility Shut-Offs End," 26 Sep. 2020 Joe Biden’s campaign is airing a string of ads featuring small-business owners who say they were left behind by the coronavirus stimulus. Ryan Teague Beckwith,, "Obama Endorsements Show Changing Electoral Map: Campaign Update," 25 Sep. 2020 On a national level, reforestation campaigns can be effective economic stimulus measures. Lindsey Mcginnis, The Christian Science Monitor, "Points of Progress: Reforestation project smashes goal, and more," 18 Sep. 2020 As with so many other economic factors, monetary stimulus is subject to diminishing effects. Douglas Carr, National Review, "The Fed’s New Framework Can’t Solve Its Old Problem," 14 Sep. 2020 The euro is up again this morning, and its steady rise is undoing some of the intended effects of the stimulus measures unveiled by the central bank this spring. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "A flurry of M&A deals lifts global stocks. Yes, even tech stocks," 14 Sep. 2020 Investors say such stimulus is critical to the economy, but partisan disagreements have Congress at an apparent impasse. Jessica Menton, USA TODAY, "Is the stock market headed for another crash? Not likely but more volatility could be ahead, experts say," 11 Sep. 2020 Investors will be looking for signs the bank could turn the stimulus tap back on following a sharp rise in the euro against the dollar. Charles Riley, CNN, "The pressure is off stocks ... for now," 10 Sep. 2020 The stimulus also provided $500 for each qualifying child. Leada Gore |, al, "Second stimulus check: Trump $300 billion proposal; What we know today," 7 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stimulus.' 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 stimulus

1684, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for stimulus


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Time Traveler for stimulus

Time Traveler

The first known use of stimulus was in 1684

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Statistics for stimulus

Last Updated

30 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Stimulus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for stimulus


How to pronounce stimulus (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of stimulus

: something that causes something else to happen, develop, or become more active
: something that causes a change or a reaction


stim·​u·​lus | \ ˈsti-myə-ləs How to pronounce stimulus (audio) \
plural stimuli\ -​ˌlī , -​ˌlē \

Kids Definition of stimulus

1 : something that stirs or urges to action The reward was a stimulus for greater effort.
2 : an influence that acts usually from outside the body to partly change bodily activity (as by exciting a receptor or sense organ) Light, heat, and sound are common physical stimuli.


stim·​u·​lus | \ ˈstim-yə-ləs How to pronounce stimulus (audio) \
plural stimuli\ -​ˌlī How to pronounce stimuli (audio) , -​ˌlē How to pronounce stimuli (audio) \

Medical Definition of stimulus

2 : an agent (as an environmental change) that directly influences the activity of living protoplasm (as by exciting a sensory organ or evoking muscular contraction or glandular secretion) a visual stimulus

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