noun, plural impetuses.
a moving force; impulse; stimulus: The grant for building the opera house gave impetus to the city's cultural life.
(broadly) the momentum of a moving body, especially with reference to the cause of motion.

1650–60; < Latin: an attack, literally, a rushing into, perhaps by haplology from *impetitus (though the expected form would be *impetītus; see appetite), equivalent to impetī-, variant stem of impetere to attack (im- im-1 + petere to make for, assault) + -tus suffix of v. action

impetus, impotence, sterility.

1. stimulation, spur, boost. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
impetus (ˈɪmpɪtəs)
n , pl -tuses
1.  an impelling movement or force; incentive or impulse; stimulus
2.  physics the force that sets a body in motion or that tends to resist changes in a body's motion
[C17: from Latin: attack, from impetere to assail, from im- (in) + petere to make for, seek out]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1641, from L. impetus "attack, assault, onset, impulse, violence, vigor, force, passion," related to impetere "to attack," from in- "into" + petere "aim for, rush at" (see petition).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The games have added impetus to a number of policies and projects, likely
  boosting odds for the bag ban's implementation.
Exports have provided the primary impetus for industrialization.
These issues disclose an important fact: science has been stymied by a major
In the forties and fifties a lot of the impetus behind the organizing on behalf
  of social equality was catalyzed by unions.
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