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[im-per-uh-tiv] /ɪmˈpɛr ə tɪv/
absolutely necessary or required; unavoidable:
It is imperative that we leave.
of the nature of or expressing a command; commanding.
Grammar. noting or pertaining to the mood of the verb used in commands, requests, etc., as in Listen! Go!
Compare indicative (def 2), subjunctive (def 1).
a command.
something that demands attention or action; an unavoidable obligation or requirement; necessity:
It is an imperative that we help defend friendly nations.
  1. the imperative mood.
  2. a verb in this mood.
an obligatory statement, principle, or the like.
Origin of imperative
1520-30; < Late Latin imperātivus, equivalent to Latin imperāt(us) past participle of imperāre to impose, order, command (im- im-1 + -per- (combining form of parāre to fur-nish (with), produce, obtain, prepare) + -ātus -ate1) + -īvus -ive
Related forms
imperatively, adverb
imperativeness, noun
nonimperative, adjective
nonimperatively, adverb
nonimperativeness, noun
unimperative, adjective
unimperatively, adverb
Can be confused
imperative, imperial, imperious.
1. inescapable; indispensable, essential; exigent, compelling. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for imperatively
Historical Examples
  • We imperatively require a perception of, and a homage to beauty in our companions.

    Essays, Second Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • It existed in America and was imperatively demanded in Europe.

    Herbert Hoover Vernon Kellogg
  • “We must not trust him or any of the others,” said Dirk imperatively.

  • "I wish to see you—I must speak with you, even if you have retired," she returned, imperatively.

    The Masked Bridal Mrs. Georgie Sheldon
  • She let go his arm and imperatively pushed it from her, tossing her head.

    A Pair of Blue Eyes Thomas Hardy
  • Also that it is 'imperatively demanded by the necessities of war.'

    The War in South Africa

    Arthur Conan Doyle
  • "Go on," he said so imperatively that, with one long breath, Theodora began to read.

    Teddy: Her Book Anna Chapin Ray
  • Now, herr,” he said imperatively: “put your arms round my neck.

    The Crystal Hunters George Manville Fenn
  • The King, then in Hanover, was imperatively sent for home, and had to come.

  • "One moment, please," broke in the little general, imperatively.

    A Little Traitor to the South Cyrus Townsend Brady
British Dictionary definitions for imperatively


extremely urgent or important; essential
peremptory or authoritative: an imperative tone of voice
(grammar) Also imperatival (ɪmˌpɛrəˈtaɪvəl). denoting a mood of verbs used in giving orders, making requests, etc. In English the verb root without any inflections is the usual form, as for example leave in Leave me alone
something that is urgent or essential
an order or command
  1. the imperative mood
  2. a verb in this mood
Derived Forms
imperatively, adverb
imperativeness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin imperātīvus, from Latin imperāre to command
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for imperatively



1520s, from Late Latin imperativus "pertaining to a command," from imperatus "commanded," past participle of imperare "to command, to requisition," from assimilated form of in- "into, in" (see in- (2)) + parare "prepare" (see pare).



mid-15c., in grammar; later "something imperative" (c.1600), from Old French imperatif and directly from Late Latin imperativus (see imperative (adj.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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imperatively in Culture

imperative definition

A grammatical category describing verbs that command or request: “Leave town by tonight”; “Please hand me the spoon.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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