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[im-puhl-siv] /ɪmˈpʌl sɪv/
actuated or swayed by emotional or involuntary impulses:
an impulsive child.
having the power or effect of impelling; characterized by impulsion:
impulsive forces.
inciting to action:
the impulsive effects of a revolutionary idea.
Mechanics. (of forces) acting momentarily; not continuous.
Origin of impulsive
late Middle English
1375-1425 for an earlier sense; 1545-55 for current senses; late Middle English impulsif < Medieval Latin impulsīvus. See impulse, -ive
Related forms
impulsively, adverb
impulsiveness, impulsivity, noun
nonimpulsive, adjective
nonimpulsively, adverb
nonimpulsiveness, noun
unimpulsive, adjective
unimpulsively, adverb
Can be confused
compulsive, impulsive, impetuous (see synonym study at impetuous)
1. rash, quick, hasty. See impetuous. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for impulsiveness
  • Earthquake faults have a nasty way of combining patience with impulsiveness.
  • To rein in impulsiveness, try becoming more self-aware as you go about your day.
  • For me, it's too limited in scope and is akin to drunk dialing in the impulsiveness and inanity that gets thrown around.
  • impulsiveness lies alongside wanderlust in a spot close to his heart.
  • What gives them strength during the uprising-their amorphous character and impulsiveness-leads to their subsequent undoing.
  • For all its seeming impulsiveness, the decision was years in the making.
  • Symptoms for the disorder include impulsiveness, hyperactivity and poor concentration, and can develop over several months.
  • His impulsiveness in framing an alibi for a spineless malefactor results in threatened disbarment proceedings.
  • Cool organizational skills and impulsiveness must find a way to live together.
  • But existing alongside this self-conscious irony is a childish impulsiveness.
British Dictionary definitions for impulsiveness


characterized by actions based on sudden desires, whims, or inclinations rather than careful thought: an impulsive man
based on emotional impulses or whims; spontaneous: an impulsive kiss
forceful, inciting, or impelling
(of physical forces) acting for a short time; not continuous
(of a sound) brief, loud, and having a wide frequency range
Derived Forms
impulsively, adverb
impulsiveness, noun
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
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Word Origin and History for impulsiveness

1650s; see impulsive + -ness.



early 15c., originally in reference to medicine that reduces swelling or humors, from Middle French impulsif or directly from Medieval Latin impulsivus, from Latin impuls-, past participle stem of impellere (see impel). Of persons, "rash, characterized by impulses," from 1847.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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impulsiveness in Medicine

impulsive im·pul·sive (ĭm-pŭl'sĭv)

  1. Inclined or tending to act on impulse rather than thought.

  2. Motivated by or resulting from impulse.

im·pul'sive·ness or im'pul·siv'i·ty n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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