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[im-pech-oo-uh s] /ɪmˈpɛtʃ u əs/
of, relating to, or characterized by sudden or rash action, emotion, etc.; impulsive:
an impetuous decision; an impetuous person.
having great impetus; moving with great force; violent:
the impetuous winds.
Origin of impetuous
1350-1400; Middle English < Anglo-French < Late Latin impetuōsus, equivalent to Latin impetu(s) impetus + -ōsus -ous
Related forms
impetuously, adverb
impetuousness, noun
Can be confused
compulsive, impulsive, impetuous (see synonym study at the current entry)
1. eager, headlong. Impetuous, impulsive both refer to persons who are hasty and precipitate in action, or to actions not preceded by thought. Impetuous suggests eagerness, violence, rashness: impetuous vivacity; impetuous desire; impetuous words. Impulsive emphasizes spontaneity and lack of reflection: an impulsive act of generosity.
1. planned, careful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for impetuous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Her words were the result of an impetuous defense of the absent man.

    The Golden Woman Ridgwell Cullum
  • The report of his gun was answered by a roar and an impetuous charge.

    The Giraffe Hunters Mayne Reid
  • Elsewhere than at Coralio one learns of the impetuous career of Isabel Guilbert.

  • As they made their impetuous charge, he endeavoured to get loose from his master.

    The Giraffe Hunters Mayne Reid
  • A rash, impetuous, passionate man; but a great loss for his party, as a man of mind and mark.

  • You are so impetuous, Madame, that I always tremble at the fear of displeasing you.

    Louise de la Valliere Alexandre Dumas, Pere
  • He was just such a man as Trevison—reckless, impulsive, and impetuous—dare-devil who would not tolerate injustice or oppression.

    'Firebrand' Trevison Charles Alden Seltzer
British Dictionary definitions for impetuous


liable to act without consideration; rash; impulsive
resulting from or characterized by rashness or haste
(poetic) moving with great force or violence; rushing: the impetuous stream hurtled down the valley
Derived Forms
impetuously, adverb
impetuousness, impetuosity (ɪmˌpɛtjʊˈɒsɪtɪ) noun
Word Origin
C14: from Late Latin impetuōsus violent; see impetus
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 impetuous

late 14c., "hot-tempered, fierce," from Old French impetuos (13c.) and directly from Late Latin impetuosus "impetuous, violent," from Latin impetus "attack" (see impetus). Related: Impetuously; impetuousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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