[ih-nish-ee-uh-tiv, ih-nish-uh-]
  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.
  3. one's personal, responsible decision: to act on one's own initiative.
  4. Government.
    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.
  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
Related formsin·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

Synonyms for initiative Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for uninitiative


  1. the first step or action of a matter; commencing movehe took the initiative; a peace initiative
  2. the right or power to begin or initiate somethinghe has the initiative
  3. the ability or attitude required to begin or initiate something
  4. government
    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
  5. on one's own initiative without being prompted
  1. of or concerning initiation or serving to initiate; initiatory
Derived Formsinitiatively, 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

Word Origin and History for uninitiative



1793, "that which begins," also "power of initiating," from French initiative (1560s), from Latin initiatus (see initiation). First attested in English in writings of William Godwin. Phrase take the initiative recorded by 1844.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with uninitiative


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.