[ ih-nish-uh-tiv, ih-nish-ee-uh- ]
/ ɪˈnɪʃ ə tɪv, ɪˈnɪʃ i ə- /
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See synonyms for: initiative / initiatives on Thesaurus.com


an introductory act or step; leading action: to take the initiative in making friends.
readiness and ability in initiating action; enterprise: to lack initiative.
one's personal, responsible decision: to act on one's own initiative.
  1. 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).
  2. the general right or ability to present a new bill or measure, as in a legislature.


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



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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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Origin of initiative

First recorded in 1785–95; initiate + -ive


in·i·ti·a·tive·ly, adverbself-in·i·ti·a·tive, nounsu·per·in·i·ti·a·tive, nounun·in·i·ti·a·tive, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for initiative

British Dictionary definitions for initiative

/ (ɪˈnɪʃɪətɪv, -ˈnɪʃətɪv) /


the first step or action of a matter; commencing movehe took the initiative; a peace initiative
the right or power to begin or initiate somethinghe has the initiative
the ability or attitude required to begin or initiate something
  1. the right or power to introduce legislation, etc, in a legislative body
  2. the procedure by which citizens originate legislation, as in many American states and Switzerland
on one's own initiative without being prompted


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

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.