• synonyms


See more synonyms for imperative on Thesaurus.com
  1. absolutely necessary or required; unavoidable: It is imperative that we leave.
  2. of the nature of or expressing a command; commanding.
  3. Grammar. noting or pertaining to the mood of the verb used in commands, requests, etc., as in Listen! Go!Compare indicative(def 2), subjunctive(def 1).
Show More
  1. a command.
  2. something that demands attention or action; an unavoidable obligation or requirement; necessity: It is an imperative that we help defend friendly nations.
  3. Grammar.
    1. the imperative mood.
    2. a verb in this mood.
  4. an obligatory statement, principle, or the like.
Show More

Origin of imperative

1520–30; < Late Latin imperātivus, equivalent to Latin imperāt(us) past participle of imperāre to impose, order, command (im- im-1 + -per- (combining form of parāre to fur-nish (with), produce, obtain, prepare) + -ātus -ate1) + -īvus -ive
Related formsim·per·a·tive·ly, adverbim·per·a·tive·ness, nounnon·im·per·a·tive, adjectivenon·im·per·a·tive·ly, adverbnon·im·per·a·tive·ness, nounun·im·per·a·tive, adjectiveun·im·per·a·tive·ly, adverb
Can be confusedimperative imperial imperious

Synonyms for imperative

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for imperative

obligatory, inescapable, indispensable, crucial, immediate, compulsory, pressing, urgent, vital, critical, essential, important, acute, instant, crying, burning, imperial, dominant, bidding, stern

Examples from the Web for imperative

Contemporary Examples of imperative

Historical Examples of imperative

  • From all of which I have drawn one main inference—the imperative urgency of Trust.

  • We both agreed that evacuation of the Hagen was imperative; but then, how to get out?

  • Roland was lingering unwillingly, detained by Burnham's imperative hand.

    The Fortune Hunter

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • But when he would have followed her, Dilly laid a light but imperative hand on his arm.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • Then, with a sudden, imperative gesture, she half turned towards him.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

British Dictionary definitions for imperative


  1. extremely urgent or important; essential
  2. peremptory or authoritativean imperative tone of voice
  3. Also: imperatival (ɪmˌpɛrəˈtaɪvəl) grammar denoting a mood of verbs used in giving orders, making requests, etc. In English the verb root without any inflections is the usual form, as for example leave in Leave me alone
Show More
  1. something that is urgent or essential
  2. an order or command
  3. grammar
    1. the imperative mood
    2. a verb in this mood
Show More
Derived Formsimperatively, adverbimperativeness, noun

Word Origin for imperative

C16: from Late Latin imperātīvus, from Latin imperāre to command
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

Word Origin and History for imperative


1520s, from Late Latin imperativus "pertaining to a command," from imperatus "commanded," past participle of imperare "to command, to requisition," from assimilated form of in- "into, in" (see in- (2)) + parare "prepare" (see pare).

Show More

mid-15c., in grammar; later "something imperative" (c.1600), from Old French imperatif and directly from Late Latin imperativus (see imperative (adj.)).

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

imperative in Culture


A grammatical category describing verbs that command or request: “Leave town by tonight”; “Please hand me the spoon.”

Show More
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.