[ im-pi-tuhs ]
/ ˈɪm pɪ təs /

noun, plural im·pe·tus·es.

a moving force; impulse; stimulus: The grant for building the opera house gave impetus to the city's cultural life.
(broadly) the momentum of a moving body, especially with reference to the cause of motion.

Nearby words

  1. impetigo neonatorum,
  2. impetigo vulgaris,
  3. impetrate,
  4. impetuosity,
  5. impetuous,
  6. impf.,
  7. imphal,
  8. impi,
  9. impiety,
  10. impinge

Origin of impetus

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

Can be confusedimpetus impotence sterility Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for impetus

British Dictionary definitions for impetus


/ (ˈɪmpɪtəs) /

noun plural -tuses

an impelling movement or force; incentive or impulse; stimulus
physics the force that sets a body in motion or that tends to resist changes in a body's motion

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for impetus



early 15c., impetous "rapid movement, rush;" 1640s, with modern spelling, "force with which a body moves, driving force," from Latin impetus "attack, assault, onset, impulse, violence, vigor, force, passion," related to impetere "to attack," from assimilated form of in- "into, in, on, upon" (see in- (2)) + petere "aim for, rush at" (see petition (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper