[ im-pi-tuhs ]
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noun,plural im·pe·tus·es.
  1. a moving force; impulse; stimulus: The grant for building the opera house gave impetus to the city's cultural life.

  2. (broadly) the momentum of a moving body, especially with reference to the cause of motion.

Origin of impetus

First recorded in 1650–60; from Latin: “an attack,” literally, “a rushing into,” perhaps by haplology from unattested impetitus (though the expected form would be unattested impetītus; see appetite), equivalent to impetī-, variant stem of impetere “to attack” (im-im-1 + petere “to make for, assault”) + -tus suffix of verb action

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Words Nearby impetus Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use impetus in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for impetus


/ (ˈɪmpɪtəs) /

nounplural -tuses
  1. an impelling movement or force; incentive or impulse; stimulus

  2. physics the force that sets a body in motion or that tends to resist changes in a body's motion

Origin of impetus

C17: from Latin: attack, from impetere to assail, from im- (in) + petere to make for, seek out

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