Synonyms & Antonyms of imperative

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 forcing one's compliance or participation by or as if by law
  • reporting signs of physical abuse is now an imperative duty for hospital and school personnel

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2 impossible to do without
  • proper equipment is imperative for the success of this chemical experiment

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3 needing immediate attention
  • an imperative need for medical supplies in the earthquake-ravaged country

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Antonyms for imperative



Synonyms & Antonyms of imperative (Entry 2 of 2)

1 a statement of what to do that must be obeyed by those concerned
  • a secretary of defense who was fond of issuing harshly worded imperatives

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2 something one must do because of prior agreement
  • although he had little taste for the social imperatives that come with being governor, he put on a brave face

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See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About imperative

How is the word imperative distinct from other similar adjectives?

Some common synonyms of imperative are domineering, imperious, masterful, and peremptory. While all these words mean "tending to impose one's will on others," imperative implies peremptoriness arising more from the urgency of the situation than from an inherent will to dominate.

an imperative appeal for assistance

When would domineering be a good substitute for imperative?

The meanings of domineering and imperative largely overlap; however, domineering suggests an overbearing or arbitrary manner and an obstinate determination to enforce one's will.

children controlled by domineering parents

When is imperious a more appropriate choice than imperative?

While the synonyms imperious and imperative are close in meaning, imperious implies a commanding nature or manner and often suggests arrogant assurance.

an imperious executive used to getting his own way

When might masterful be a better fit than imperative?

Although the words masterful and imperative have much in common, masterful implies a strong personality and ability to act authoritatively.

her masterful personality soon dominated the movement

When is it sensible to use peremptory instead of imperative?

While in some cases nearly identical to imperative, peremptory implies an abrupt dictatorial manner coupled with an unwillingness to brook disobedience or dissent.

given a peremptory dismissal

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Time Traveler for imperative

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Imperative.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on imperative

Dictionary: Definition of imperative

Medical Dictionary: Definition of imperative

Nglish: Translation of imperative for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of imperative for Arabic Speakers

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