Word of the Day : February 25, 2019


noun IM-puh-tus


1 a : a driving force : impulse

b : incentive, stimulus

c : stimulation or encouragement resulting in increased activity

2 : the property possessed by a moving body in virtue of its mass and its motion — used of bodies moving suddenly or violently to indicate the origin and intensity of the motion

Did You Know?

You already have plenty of incentive to learn the origin of impetus, so we won't force the point. Impetus comes from Latin, where it means "attack or assault"; the verb impetere was formed by combining the prefix in- with petere, meaning "to go to or seek." Petere also gives us other words suggesting a forceful urging or momentum, such as appetite, perpetual, and centripetal. Impetus describes the kind of force that encourages an action ("the impetus behind the project") or the momentum of an action already begun ("the meetings only gave impetus to the rumors of a merger").


The high salary and generous benefits package were impetus enough to apply for the job.

"Several legislators who spoke at last week's workshop cited a recent series by the Post & Courier of Charleston as the impetus for this year's focus on education." — Kirk Brown, The Greenville (South Carolina) News, 9 Jan. 2019

Word Family Quiz

Fill in the blanks to complete an adjective that is believed to be derived from Latin petere (meaning "to seek") and means "likely to have or produce good results"? p _ _ p _ _ i _ us.



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