Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An impelling force; an impulse.
  • n. The force or energy associated with a moving body.
  • n. Something that incites; a stimulus.
  • n. Increased activity in response to a stimulus: The approaching deadline gave impetus to the investigation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Something that impels, a stimulating factor.
  • n. A force, either internal or external, that impels; an impulse.
  • n. The force or energy associated with a moving body; a stimulus.
  • n. An activity in response to a stimulus.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A property possessed by a moving body in virtue of its weight and its motion; the force with which any body is driven or impelled; momentum.
  • n. Fig.: Impulse; incentive; stimulus; vigor; force.
  • n. The altitude through which a heavy body must fall to acquire a velocity equal to that with which a ball is discharged from a piece.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Energy of motion; the power with which a moving body tends to maintain its velocity and overcome resistance: as, the impetus of a cannon-ball; hence, figuratively, impulse; impulsion; stimulus.
  • n. In gunnery, the altitude due to the first force of projection, or the space through which a body must fall to acquire a velocity equal to that with which a ball is discharged from a piece.
  • n. The sudden force of passion.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the act of applying force suddenly
  • n. a force that moves something along

Etymologies

Middle English impetous, from Latin impetus, from impetere, to attack : in-, against; + petere, to go towards, seek.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin impetus ("a rushing upon, an attack, assault, onset"), from impetere ("to rush upon, attack"), from in ("upon") + petere ("to seek, fall upon"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • architectural impetus

    February 8, 2011

  • development of blood transfusion and especially organ transplantation as methods of treatment in clinical medicine provided a strong impetus to detect and define genes that control rejection reactions in humans.

    November 12, 2010

  • The main impetus to creating the licensing systems on which artificial scarcity depends came from the medical profession early in the twentieth century.

    September 14, 2010

  • דַּחַף, אִימְפּוּלְס, תַּמְרִיץ
    Eating Animals

    June 28, 2010

  • I always think of Newton when I read this word.

    December 13, 2006