Definition of imperative in English:



  • 1Of vital importance; crucial.

    ‘immediate action was imperative’
    with clause ‘it is imperative that standards are maintained’
    • ‘It is imperative you be shielded from that criticism by the very mechanism of providing this conduit for those feelings.’
    • ‘With reloading it is absolutely imperative we measure at least twice, maybe more.’
    • ‘So they're an imperative part of our community fabric.’
    • ‘The rampant smuggling once again shows how imperative and urgent it is now to bring domestic fuel prices closer to international levels.’
    • ‘I feel it is imperative the Government provides adequate laws to empower local authorities to provide council tax payers with peace and quiet.’
    • ‘Illness, death and the cost of hip fractures make prevention imperative.’
    • ‘Thus, it is imperative that health communication scholars focus their efforts on adolescent patient-physician communication.’
    • ‘It is imperative that existing and future residents in the area engage in proactive dialogue with all parties to ensure that any development is for the betterment of the lives of its residents.’
    • ‘The authors concluded that it was imperative that current road safety programmes, including random breath testing, be fully implemented.’
    • ‘But they also know that the settlement was meant as ‘hush money’, and therefore it is imperative the truth be asserted more clearly than ever.’
    • ‘For a moment, despite the obviously imperative differences in gender, they emerge as the twin epic heroes on the same side, fighting the same war against a common foe.’
    • ‘We do have imperative obligations to people who are poor and in need, and no government can avoid that.’
    • ‘- It's absolutely imperative to trust your financial adviser.’
    • ‘But that only makes the task of doing so all the more imperative.’
    • ‘The world heroine had rendered her causes morally imperative and essential to national military power.’
    • ‘It is imperative this person or persons are brought to justice as quickly as possible.’
    • ‘In order to implement gender reform, it is imperative that gender bias in the legal framework of the country is removed.’
    • ‘On that view, since basic self-knowledge is more certain than perceptual knowledge, it is more imperative that one be master of all its enabling conditions.’
    • ‘It is imperative that couples should communicate in order to know the root of the conflict.’
    • ‘And then the following imperative issues must be addressed.’
    vitally important, of vital importance, all-important, vital, crucial, critical, essential, of the essence, a matter of life and death, of great consequence, necessary, indispensable, exigent, pressing, urgent
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  • 2Giving an authoritative command; peremptory.

    ‘the bell pealed again, a final imperative call’
    • ‘It's an imperative and ornate exhortation to lay open your nerves and unabashedly, unapologetically feel.’
    • ‘But then there will be an imperative demand for the local authorities to invest in skilled manpower.’
    • ‘The human desire for novelty is twinned with an equally imperative desire for continuity.’
    • ‘So their brand name is nothing less than an imperative exhortation to those struggling with their conscience to simply give in to it: go ahead!’
    • ‘The high incidence of nominalization in the CMA code completes the message of authority given by the imperative mode and its deontological orientation.’
    peremptory, commanding, imperious, authoritative, masterful, lordly, magisterial, autocratic, dictatorial, domineering, overbearing, assertive, firm, insistent, bossy, high-handed, overweening
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    1. 2.1Grammar Denoting the mood of a verb that expresses a command or exhortation, as in come here!
      • ‘In English the indicative mood is used to make factual statements, the subjunctive mood to indicate doubt or unlikelihood, and the imperative mood to express a command.’
      • ‘The passive voice gives a sense of detached and objective authority that, in contrast to the imperative mode, is expressive of neutrality.’
      • ‘What if Johnny paints profane imperative sentences on the barn door?’
      • ‘As is evident from my translation, the elision is that of an imperative verb.’
      • ‘It's short and sweet, but decidedly in the imperative mood.’


  • 1An essential or urgent thing.

    ‘free movement of labour was an economic imperative’
    • ‘Chief among these challenges are the need for a new type of salesperson and the imperative to win acceptance of value-based prices by third-party payers.’
    • ‘Relatively recently, the imperative was for restraint and moderation in sexual matters; now it is for more and better sexual gratification.’
    • ‘Law enforcement officers come ‘under pressure to perform quickly… the imperative is simply to be seen to be tough on crime.’’
    • ‘The drama of history and biography is sacrificed to the imperative of ‘covering’ everything in a single volume.’
    • ‘Currently, too many internet users fail to understand, or fail to act on, the imperative to protect themselves for the greater good.’
    • ‘Both recognised the imperative of being smarter to achieve their ends.’
    • ‘Such an imperative seems particularly urgent because of the vacuum at the top.’
    • ‘But it is one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad and it is a moral and strategic imperative that we give it our best shot.’
    • ‘This creates the imperative of immediacy which has so far evaded those pay TV networks attempting to sell goods and services from retailers and banks through interactive TV.’
    • ‘Given the imperative of global competition and the continued flow of efficiency gains from past investments in technology, the efficiency trend will not go into reverse.’
    • ‘Applicants also showed an understanding of the imperative to enable teachers to grow and realize more of their own potential in their chosen profession.’
    • ‘As you can see, we haven't got very far in meeting our moral obligations under this imperative.’
    • ‘First, we see the imperative to view this work in cycles with multiple points of entry and modes of engagement.’
    • ‘Tackling this pandemic is one of the most urgent moral imperatives facing the world.’
    • ‘Our successes have highlighted some essential imperatives for how we will continue to do business.’
    • ‘She continued: ‘There are moral imperatives also and one of the moral imperatives here is that the vulnerable must have their basic human needs met.’’
    • ‘Such an indication or a close relative's agreement (based on his knowledge of the donor's attitude and moral values) is imperative.’
    • ‘Job stress is caused by the lack of adequate staffing, and by the imperative for laboratory work to be error-free.’
    • ‘The protection of domestic agriculture must be recognised as a food security imperative.’
    • ‘The imperative now is to draw up a treaty to prevent such disasters ever happening again.’
    necessary condition, precondition, condition, essential, requirement, requisite, necessity, proviso, qualification, imperative, basic, rudiment, obligation, duty
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    1. 1.1 A factor or influence making something necessary.
      ‘the biological imperatives which guide male and female behaviour’
      • ‘Indeed, the idea that ‘we shouldn't impose our personal moral views on other people’ sounds itself like an absolute moral imperative.’
      • ‘Babies work in tune with our biological imperatives, lying there, helpless and demanding, screaming and spewing, while at the same time generating love.’
      • ‘Though feminism today is obviously a broad term that includes different and sometimes clashing ideas, many feminists reject the idea that motherhood or biological imperatives define a woman.’
      • ‘This case is a good example of the conflict that can arise between the imperative on doctors to ‘first do no harm’ and each patient's right to self determination.’
      • ‘Until the 1970s, engineering and economic imperatives had been pushing the fuel mix inexorably up the power-density curve, from wood to coal to oil to uranium.’
      • ‘However, here everyday lines and notational devices are freed from the imperative to represent directly.’
      • ‘Some women were aware of the influence of technological imperatives on the attitudes of health professionals, and they occasionally experienced this as bullying.’
      • ‘It is that Ireland needs to expand its view of the European Union membership beyond the basic economic imperatives.’
      • ‘By the 1980s, however, financial imperatives led to the closure and demolition of much of Glasgow's cutting-edge church estate.’
      • ‘This pernicious tendency is promoted mainly by the imperative in university curricula to label things for treatment in semester-sized chunks, and the habits of writers for academic journals.’
      • ‘This establishes a competition between the state and the tribe, which the tribe, with its greater moral imperative, eventually wins.’
      • ‘The second, related, threat is the imperative of poverty.’
      • ‘I'm not sure of the imperative, but by gosh, we're posting, posting, posting like we're determined to reach that destination.’
      • ‘Such legislative developments, Wright argues, were underpinned by a number of moral and economic imperatives.’
      • ‘Great efforts of the mind are required to rationalize actions that are obviously contrary to fundamental biological imperatives.’
      • ‘What the brand management system should have brought, but indeed has not yet delivered, is the imperative to be more competitive.’
      • ‘What's needed in this political setting, say forum participants, is a moral imperative that trumps sheer economic concerns.’
      • ‘The moral vacuum at the heart of the economic and social imperatives of the winners in the last quarter century is now exposed.’
      • ‘Each staff member received copies of articles highlighting negative surgical outcomes to illustrate the imperative for the program.’
      • ‘Has anything happened or new information been acquired as a result of these activities that would change the imperative to halt the use of tobacco?’
  • 2Grammar
    A verb or phrase in the imperative mood.

    • ‘Now qumi could be a feminine singular imperative meaning ‘arise’ in either Hebrew or Aramaic.’
    • ‘When Anglicans and Presbyterians used direct imperatives, they have a preference for the verbs ‘help’ and ‘teach’.’
    • ‘Jon's utterance is an imperative, but it is not a command.’
    • ‘In fields where imperatives were present in the main text (five out of ten), we recorded interviews with the authors of one of the articles.’
    • ‘Noteworthy in this meditation is the use of imperatives and action verbs, which are meant to activate the believer.’
    1. 2.1the imperative The imperative mood.
      • ‘With a slogan in the imperative for every page, each designed to stimulate or simulate happiness, the calendar is a study in conventional contentment.’
      • ‘Their relation sometimes shows that the imperative is no longer the consequence of the indicative, but an inseparable part of the kerygmatic indicative.’
      • ‘We focused on the indicative and the imperative, the former implying fact, the latter implying authority.’
      • ‘In any case, this tension between the indicative and the imperative may lead us to a fruitful discussion on the main theme of our deliberations during this conference.’


Late Middle English (as a grammatical term): from late Latin imperativus (literally ‘specially ordered’, translating Greek prostatikē enklisis ‘imperative mood’), from imperare ‘to command’, from in- ‘towards’ + parare ‘make ready’.