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Definition of impetuous

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im·pet·u·ous  audio  (m-pch-s) KEY 

  1. Characterized by sudden and forceful energy or emotion; impulsive and passionate.
  2. Having or marked by violent force: impetuous, heaving waves.

Middle English, violent, from Old French impetueux, from Late Latin impetusus, from Latin impetus, impetus ; see impetus

im·petu·ous·ly(Adverb), im·petu·ous·ness(Noun)

impetuous, heedless, hasty, headlong, precipitate, sudden

These adjectives describe abruptness or lack of deliberation. Impetuous suggests forceful impulsiveness or impatience: "[a race driver who was] flamboyant, impetuous, disdainful of death" (Jim Murray). Heedless implies carelessness or lack of responsibility or proper regard for consequences: "Hobbling down stairs with heedless haste, I set my foot full in a pail of water" (Richard Steele). Hasty and headlong both stress hurried, often reckless action: "Hasty marriage seldom proveth well" (Shakespeare). "In his headlong flight down the circular staircase, ... [he] had pitched forward violently, struck his head against the door to the east veranda, and probably broken his neck" (Mary Roberts Rinehart). Precipitate suggests impulsiveness and lack of due reflection: a precipitate decision. Sudden applies to what becomes apparent abruptly or unexpectedly: is given to sudden paroxysms of anger.

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