[ ih-nish-uh-tiv, ih-nish-ee-uh- ]
See synonyms for: initiativeinitiatives on

  1. an introductory act or step; leading action: to take the initiative in making friends.

  2. readiness and ability in initiating action; enterprise: to lack initiative.

  1. one's personal, responsible decision: to act on one's own initiative.

  2. Government.

    • a procedure by which a specified number of voters may propose a statute, constitutional amendment, or ordinance, and compel a popular vote on its adoption.: Compare referendum (def. 1).

    • the general right or ability to present a new bill or measure, as in a legislature.

  1. of or relating to formal admission or acceptance into a club or other group; signifying an initiation: The secret society's initiative events are best left undescribed.

  2. serving to set in motion or initiate; introductory; beginning: Initiative steps were taken to stop manufacture of the drug.

Origin of initiative

First recorded in 1785–95; initiate + -ive

Other words for initiative

Other words from initiative

  • in·i·ti·a·tive·ly, adverb
  • self-in·i·ti·a·tive, noun
  • su·per·in·i·ti·a·tive, noun
  • un·in·i·ti·a·tive, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use initiative in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for initiative


/ (ɪˈnɪʃɪətɪv, -ˈnɪʃətɪv) /

  1. the first step or action of a matter; commencing move: he took the initiative; a peace initiative

  2. the right or power to begin or initiate something: he has the initiative

  1. the ability or attitude required to begin or initiate something

  2. government

    • the right or power to introduce legislation, etc, in a legislative body

    • the procedure by which citizens originate legislation, as in many American states and Switzerland

  3. on one's own initiative without being prompted

  1. of or concerning initiation or serving to initiate; initiatory

Derived forms of initiative

  • initiatively, adverb

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with initiative


see on one's own account (initiative); take the initiative.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.