[ im-puhl-siv ]
See synonyms for: impulsiveimpulsivelyimpulsiveness on

  1. actuated or swayed by emotional or involuntary impulses: an impulsive child.

  2. having the power or effect of impelling; characterized by impulsion: impulsive forces.

  1. inciting to action: the impulsive effects of a revolutionary idea.

  2. Mechanics. (of forces) acting momentarily; not continuous.

Origin of impulsive

First recorded in 1375–1425 for an earlier sense; 1545–55 for current senses; late Middle English impulsif, from Medieval Latin impulsīvus; see origin at impulse, -ive

synonym study For impulsive

1. See impetuous.

Other words for impulsive

Other words from impulsive

  • im·pul·sive·ly, adverb
  • im·pul·siv·i·ty [im-puhl-siv-i-tee], /ɪmˌpʌlˈsɪv ɪ ti/, im·pul·sive·ness, noun
  • non·im·pul·sive, adjective
  • non·im·pul·sive·ly, adverb
  • un·im·pul·sive, adjective
  • un·im·pul·sive·ly, adverb

Words that may be confused with impulsive Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use impulsive in a sentence

  • On the other hand, she seems entirely capable of announcing for president impulsively.

    Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time Palin | John Avlon | September 2, 2011 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • Miss Thangue replied, impulsively, "I have often wondered if you numbered satiety among your complexities!"

    Ancestors | Gertrude Atherton
  • Impulsively I reached out, and pressed the parts of the ring into a close-fitting whole, when, lo!

    Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist | Alexander Berkman
  • She held out her hand impulsively, and her eyes were smiling as she said; "We will be generous, Monsieur Harkness—"

  • She could not resist a touch of irony in the last words, and Ruth, who had been ready to take her hand impulsively, was stung.

    Mrs. Falchion, Complete | Gilbert Parker
  • "Oh, but Cordelia, that isn't quite fair," she began impulsively; but for once Cordelia forgot her politeness and interrupted.

    The Sunbridge Girls at Six Star Ranch | Eleanor H. (Eleanor Hodgman) Porter

British Dictionary definitions for impulsive


/ (ɪmˈpʌlsɪv) /

  1. characterized by actions based on sudden desires, whims, or inclinations rather than careful thought: an impulsive man

  2. based on emotional impulses or whims; spontaneous: an impulsive kiss

  1. forceful, inciting, or impelling

  2. (of physical forces) acting for a short time; not continuous

  3. (of a sound) brief, loud, and having a wide frequency range

Derived forms of impulsive

  • impulsively, adverb
  • impulsiveness, noun

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