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See also: ímpetus



Borrowed from Latin impetus (a rushing upon, an attack, assault, onset), from impetō (to rush upon, attack), from in- (upon) + petō (to seek, fall upon).


  • IPA(key): /ˈɪm.pə.təs/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: im‧pe‧tus


impetus (plural impetuses)

  1. Anything that impels; a stimulating factor.
    The outbreak of World War II in 1939 gave a new impetus to receiver development.
    • 1838 (date written), L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter VI, in Lady Anne Granard; or, Keeping up Appearances. [], volume I, London: Henry Colburn, [], published 1842, →OCLC, page 64:
      Once set a strong mind thinking, and you have done all that it needs for its education. It matters little what is the first impetus, so that it only be set to work.
    • 2011, Phil McNulty, Euro 2012: Montenegro 2-2 England[1]:
      In a single moment Montenegro and their supporters were given fresh impetus and encouragement. Beciraj tested Hart with a low shot before teenager Phil Jones, on his England debut, suffered an anxious moment when Stevan Jovetic went down under his challenge, leaving the youngster clearly relieved to see referee Stark wave away Montenegro's appeals.
  2. A force, either internal or external, that impels; an impulse.
  3. The force or energy associated with a moving body; a stimulus.
  4. (history, medieval physics) A principle of motive force, held as exquivalent to weight times velocity by John Buridan, in an auxiliary theory of Aristotelian dynamics introduced by John Philoponus, describing projectile motion against gravity as linear until it transitions to a vertical drop and the intellectual precursor to the concepts of inertia, momentum and acceleration in classical mechanics.
  5. An activity in response to a stimulus.

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From impetō (to rush upon, attack), from in- (upon) + petō (to seek, fall upon).



impetus m (genitive impetūs); fourth declension

  1. an attack, an assault, a charge
    Synonyms: incursiō, aggressiō, impressiō, invāsiō, assultus, oppugnātiō, incursus, concursus, occursiō, petītiō, appetītus, ictus, vīs, procella
    • Caesar, de Bello Gallico VII, 28:
      Ultimas oppidi partes Continenti impetu petiverunt
      By uninterrupted charge they rushed into the utmost parts of the town
  2. a rapid motion
  3. impulse, vehemence, ardor, passion
    Synonyms: cupīdō, vehementia, libīdō, appetītus, appetītiō, ardor, avāritia, alacritās
  4. a making for


Fourth-declension noun.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative impetus impetūs
Genitive impetūs impetuum
Dative impetuī impetibus
Accusative impetum impetūs
Ablative impetū impetibus
Vocative impetus impetūs


  • Old French: ente, entes
  • Italian: empito, impito (dialectal or obsolete)
  • English: impetus
  • German: Impetus
  • Italian: impeto
  • Piedmontese: ìmpit
  • Portuguese: ímpeto
  • Spanish: ímpetu


  • impetus”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • impetus”, in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • impetus in Charles du Fresne du Cange’s Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (augmented edition with additions by D. P. Carpenterius, Adelungius and others, edited by Léopold Favre, 1883–1887)
  • impetus in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français, Hachette
  • Carl Meißner; Henry William Auden (1894) Latin Phrase-Book[2], London: Macmillan and Co.
    • to have no principles: caeco impetu ferri
    • to attack the enemy: invadere, impetum facere in hostem
    • to resist the attack, onset: impetum sustinere (B. G. 1. 26)
    • to parry the attack: impetum excipere (Liv. 6. 12)
  • impetus”, in The Century Dictionary [], New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911, →OCLC.