- the influence of a particular feeling, mental state, etc.: to act under a generous impulse; to strike out at someone from an angry impulse.
- sudden, involuntary inclination prompting to action: to be swayed by impulse.
- an instance of this.
- a psychic drive or instinctual urge.
- an impelling action or force, driving onward or inducing motion.
- the effect of an impelling force; motion induced; impetus given.
- Physiology. a progressive wave of excitation over a nerve or muscle fiber, having either a stimulating or inhibitory effect.
- Mechanics. the product of the average force acting upon a body and the time during which it acts, equivalent to the change in the momentum of the body produced by such a force.
- Electricity. a single, usually sudden, flow of current in one direction.
- marked by or acting on impulse: an impulse buyer.
- bought or acquired on impulse: To reduce expenses, shun impulse items when shopping.
Origin of impulse
Examples from the Web for impulse
The impulse to interpret seems to me what makes personal essay writing compelling.Daphne Merkin on Lena Dunham, Book Criticism, and Self-Examination
December 26, 2014
In “Not What It Used To Be,” you write about talking to your younger self, which is an impulse I think many of us will understand.Meghan Daum On Tackling The Unspeakable Parts Of Life
December 6, 2014
And I was wondering how you combat that impulse to reject the young?Martin Amis Talks About Nazis, Novels, and Cute Babies
Ronald K. Fried
October 9, 2014
The question is not whether they are right or wrong but why they feel an impulse to dispense their advice in the first place.America’s Meddlers Are Our Worst Enemies
October 3, 2014
As to whether the MRAP was an impulse buy, Ms. Kroemer assured me it was not.Why Does My Kids’ Elementary School Need a Tank?
September 13, 2014
The impulse that had prompted him to hail her now prompted wild words.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
Let her think that your own impulse leads you, and then she will yield.
Hope asked no questions, and hardly felt the impulse to inquire what had happened.
All at once an impulse of yielding which was really freedom came to her.Quaint Courtships
The impulse of one billiard-ball is attended with motion in the second.
- an impelling force or motion; thrust; impetus
- a sudden desire, whim, or inclinationI bought it on an impulse
- an instinctive drive; urge
- tendency; current; trend
- the product of the average magnitude of a force acting on a body and the time for which it acts
- the change in the momentum of a body as a result of a force acting upon it for a short period of time
- physiol See nerve impulse
- electronics a less common word for pulse 1 (def. 2)
- on impulse spontaneously or impulsively
Word Origin and History for impulse
early 15c., "an act of impelling, a thrust, push," from Latin impulsus "a push against, pressure, shock," also "incitement, instigation, impulse," past participle of impellere (see impel). Meaning "stimulus in the mind arising from some state or feeling" first recorded 1640s.
- A sudden pushing or driving force.
- A sudden wish or urge that prompts an unpremeditated act or feeling; an abrupt inclination.
- The electrochemical transmission of a signal along a nerve fiber that produces an excitatory or inhibitory response at a target tissue.
- A sudden flow of electrical current in one direction.
- An electrical signal traveling along the axon of a neuron. Nerve impulses excite or inhibit activity in other neurons or in the tissues of the body, such as muscles and glands.
- The change of momentum of a body or physical system over a time interval in classical mechanics, equal to the force applied times the length of the time interval over which it is applied.