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From Middle English impetuous, from Old French impetueux, from Late Latin impetuōsus (violent), from Latin impetus (attack, violence).


  • IPA(key): /imˈpɛt͡ʃuəs/
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impetuous (comparative more impetuous, superlative most impetuous)

  1. Making arbitrary decisions, especially in an impulsive and forceful manner.
    • 1880, John Weeks Moore, Complete Encyclopaedia of Music, "Beethoven, Louis Van":
      But it was natural, that the impetuous, restless young artist should incline more to excess of strength than of delicacy in his playing.
  2. Characterized by sudden violence or vehemence.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, “Book II, Canto IX”, in The Faerie Queene. [], London: [] [John Wolfe] for William Ponsonbie, →OCLC, stanza 14, page 311:
      For with ſuch puiſſance and impetuous maine / Thoſe Champions broke on them, that forſt the fly, / Like ſcattered Sheepe, whenas the Shepherds ſwaine / A Lyon and a Tigre doth eſpye, / With greedy pace forth ruſhing from the foreſt nye.
    • 1794, Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho, vol. II, chapter I:
      He stands, and views in the faint rays
      Far, far below, the torrent's rising surge,
      And listens to the wild impetuous roar
    • 1813, Jane Austen, chapter 4, in Pride and Prejudice, volume III:
      "Oh! where, where is my uncle?" cried Elizabeth, darting from her seat as she finished the letter, in eagerness to follow him, with-out losing a moment of the time so precious; but as she reached the door, it was opened by a servant, and Mr. Darcy appeared. Her pale face and impetuous manner made him start []
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, H.L. Brækstad, transl., Folk and Fairy Tales, page 250:
      Having made a few vain attempts at engrossing my attention in my book, I was obliged to let myself be carried away by the impetuous torrent of the squire's eloquence.
    • 1917 rev. 1925, Ezra Pound, "Canto I"
      Unsheathed the narrow sword,
      I sat to keep off the impetuous impotent dead ...


Derived terms[edit]


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