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90s Slang You Should Know


[ih-nish-ee-uh-tiv, ih-nish-uh-] /ɪˈnɪʃ i ə tɪv, ɪˈnɪʃ ə-/
an introductory act or step; leading action:
to take the initiative in making friends.
readiness and ability in initiating action; enterprise:
to lack initiative.
one's personal, responsible decision:
to act on one's own initiative.
  1. a procedure by which a specified number of voters may propose a statute, constitutional amendment, or ordinance, and compel a popular vote on its adoption.
    Compare referendum (def 1).
  2. the general right or ability to present a new bill or measure, as in a legislature.
of or relating to formal admission or acceptance into a club or other group; signifying an initiation:
The secret society's initiative events are best left undescribed.
serving to set in motion or initiate; introductory; beginning:
Initiative steps were taken to stop manufacture of the drug.
Origin of initiative
First recorded in 1785-95; initiate + -ive
Related forms
initiatively, adverb
self-initiative, noun
superinitiative, noun
uninitiative, adjective
2. leadership, forcefulness, dynamism. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for initiative
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But I soon began to love her for her virtues as ardently as though I had wooed her of my own initiative.

  • Bennigsen seized the initiative, and opened the battle by a cannonade.

    The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte William Milligan Sloane
  • Both parties adhered firmly to their point of view; it was not an easy matter to persuade either of them to take the initiative.

    Cecil Rhodes Princess Catherine Radziwill
  • There was silence for a few seconds, and then he spoke of his own initiative.

    The Wonder J. D. Beresford
  • But the Duke of Hereward has saved me the trouble of taking the initiative step.

    The Lost Lady of Lone E.D.E.N. Southworth
British Dictionary definitions for initiative


/ɪˈnɪʃɪətɪv; -ˈnɪʃətɪv/
the first step or action of a matter; commencing move: he took the initiative, a peace initiative
the right or power to begin or initiate something: he has the initiative
the ability or attitude required to begin or initiate something
  1. the right or power to introduce legislation, etc, in a legislative body
  2. the procedure by which citizens originate legislation, as in many American states and Switzerland
on one's own initiative, without being prompted
of or concerning initiation or serving to initiate; initiatory
Derived Forms
initiatively, adverb
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 initiative

1793, "that which begins," also "power of initiating," from French initiative (1560s), from Latin initiatus (see initiation). First attested in English in writings of William Godwin. Phrase take the initiative recorded by 1844.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with initiative
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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