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[im-puhl-siv] /ɪmˈpʌl sɪv/
actuated or swayed by emotional or involuntary impulses:
an impulsive child.
having the power or effect of impelling; characterized by impulsion:
impulsive forces.
inciting to action:
the impulsive effects of a revolutionary idea.
Mechanics. (of forces) acting momentarily; not continuous.
Origin of impulsive
late Middle English
1375-1425 for an earlier sense; 1545-55 for current senses; late Middle English impulsif < Medieval Latin impulsīvus. See impulse, -ive
Related forms
impulsively, adverb
impulsiveness, impulsivity, noun
nonimpulsive, adjective
nonimpulsively, adverb
nonimpulsiveness, noun
unimpulsive, adjective
unimpulsively, adverb
Can be confused
compulsive, impulsive, impetuous (see synonym study at impetuous)
1. rash, quick, hasty. See impetuous. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for impulsiveness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Weakness and impulsiveness are found in love, as well as energy and perseverance.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • The impulsiveness of her nature was displayed by her manner in accepting this favor.

    Blow The Man Down Holman Day
  • But in this case we do not distrust your good intent, only your impulsiveness and inexperience.

    The Fifth Ace

    Douglas Grant
  • He looked upon his duty as that of restraining and tempering Elwood's impulsiveness.

    Adrift in the Wilds Edward S. Ellis
  • I have often heard you lecturing Audrey on her impulsiveness and want of common-sense.

    Lover or Friend

    Rosa Nouchette Carey
  • Tollman's words, too, came with an impulsiveness which had been absent heretofore.

    The Tyranny of Weakness Charles Neville Buck
  • At length she spoke with the impulsiveness in her voice that he found so appealing.

    Mr. Crewe's Career, Complete Winston Churchill
  • She deeply regretted that her impulsiveness had rendered the revelation necessary.

    Sisters Grace May North
  • Mr. Eldridge's impulsiveness and some of his individualities were reviewed.

    It Never Can Happen Again

    William De Morgan
British Dictionary definitions for impulsiveness


characterized by actions based on sudden desires, whims, or inclinations rather than careful thought: an impulsive man
based on emotional impulses or whims; spontaneous: an impulsive kiss
forceful, inciting, or impelling
(of physical forces) acting for a short time; not continuous
(of a sound) brief, loud, and having a wide frequency range
Derived Forms
impulsively, adverb
impulsiveness, noun
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 impulsiveness

1650s; see impulsive + -ness.



early 15c., originally in reference to medicine that reduces swelling or humors, from Middle French impulsif or directly from Medieval Latin impulsivus, from Latin impuls-, past participle stem of impellere (see impel). Of persons, "rash, characterized by impulses," from 1847.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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impulsiveness in Medicine

impulsive im·pul·sive (ĭm-pŭl'sĭv)

  1. Inclined or tending to act on impulse rather than thought.

  2. Motivated by or resulting from impulse.

im·pul'sive·ness or im'pul·siv'i·ty n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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