From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



Blend of whimper +‎ imperative. Coined by Jerrold Sadock in a 1970 essay.


whimperative (plural whimperatives)

  1. (pragmatics) An order or imperative phrased obliquely as a question, such as "would you mind closing the window?"
    • 1970, Jerrold Sadock, “Whimperatives”, in Studies Presented to Robert B. Lees by His Students[1], page 235:
      Since whimperatives look like questions, the lowest hypersentence must be interrogative.
    • 2007, Stephen Pinker, The Stuff of Thought[2], →ISBN, page 388:
      We see this in the way that whimperatives use pro forma openings like Can you rather than other wordings with the same meaning, such as Are you capable of passing the salt?