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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).
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  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.
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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


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

crucially, imperatively, essentially, necessarily

Examples from the Web for imperatively

Historical Examples

  • We imperatively require a perception of, and a homage to beauty in our companions.

    Essays, Second Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • It existed in America and was imperatively demanded in Europe.

    Herbert Hoover

    Vernon Kellogg

  • “We must not trust him or any of the others,” said Dirk imperatively.

  • "I wish to see you—I must speak with you, even if you have retired," she returned, imperatively.

    The Masked Bridal

    Mrs. Georgie Sheldon

  • She let go his arm and imperatively pushed it from her, tossing her head.

British Dictionary definitions for imperatively


  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
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  1. something that is urgent or essential
  2. an order or command
  3. grammar
    1. the imperative mood
    2. a verb in this mood
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Derived Formsimperatively, adverbimperativeness, noun

Word Origin

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 imperatively



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).

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

imperatively in Culture


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

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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.