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[im-peer-ee-uh s] /ɪmˈpɪər i əs/
domineering in a haughty manner; dictatorial; overbearing:
an imperious manner; an imperious person.
urgent; imperative:
imperious need.
Origin of imperious
1535-45; < Latin imperiōsus commanding, tyrannical, equivalent to imperi(um) imperium + -ōsus -ous
Related forms
imperiously, adverb
imperiousness, noun
nonimperious, adjective
nonimperiously, adverb
nonimperiousness, noun
unimperious, adjective
unimperiously, adverb
Can be confused
imperative, imperial, imperious.
1. tyrannical, despotic, arrogant. 2. necessary.
1. submissive. 2. unnecessary. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for imperious
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He had acted "in obedience to the clear and imperious call of public obligation."

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • He, with an imperious air, bid me deserve his love, and I should be sure to have it.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • Her voice cut fiercely into the quiet of the room, imperious, savage.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • It filled his heart with delight to play with the fierce, imperious animal he rode.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • She was just as colossally commanding as ever, just as imperious.

  • He alarmed her with his imperious gesture, and she turned from him, clinging to my neck.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
British Dictionary definitions for imperious


domineering; arrogant; overbearing
(rare) urgent; imperative
Derived Forms
imperiously, adverb
imperiousness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin imperiōsus from imperium command, power
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 imperious

1540s, from Latin imperiosus "commanding, mighty, powerful," from imperium "empire, command" (see empire). Related: Imperiously.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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