Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Topic: BIOLOGY

Date: 1600-1700
Language: Latin
Origin: impulsus, from the past participle of impellere; IMPEL

impulse

noun
     
im‧pulse
1 [uncountable and countable] a sudden strong desire to do something without thinking about whether it is a sensible thing to do [= urge]
impulse to do something
a sudden impulse to laugh
Marge's first impulse was to run.
Gerry couldn't resist the impulse to kiss her.
on impulse
On impulse, I picked up the phone and rang her.
Most beginners buy plants on impulse and then hope for the best.
impulse buying/shopping (=when you buy things that you had not planned to buy)
2 [countable] technicalHPE a short electrical signal that travels in one direction along a nerve or wire:
The eye converts light signals to nerve impulses.
3 [countable] a reason or aim that causes a particular kind of activity or behaviour:
It is the passions which provide the main impulse of music.
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