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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for impetuous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "It is a great deal worse to drive without her," said the impetuous lady.

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • Then, indeed, she had burst upon him with an impetuous despair that had alarmed him.

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • At the impetuous outflinging of her hands, the floor was strewn with pink petals.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • He was an impetuous leader; but he was skilful too; he never lost his head.

  • Another minute, and impetuous Tom would have burst the window in.

    The Channings Mrs. Henry Wood
  • Her praise was impetuous enough for further and greater exertions.

    Four Girls and a Compact Annie Hamilton Donnell
  • Pardon me, if I am impetuous—different from what I have seemed.

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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