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From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
Related topics: Electricity, Biology, Electricity
impulseim‧pulse /ˈɪmpʌls/ ●○○ noun  1 [countable, uncountable]WANT a sudden strong desire to do something without thinking about whether it is a sensible thing to do syn urgeimpulse 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]REASON a reason or aim that causes a particular kind of activity or behaviour It is the passions which provide the main impulse of music.COLLOCATIONSMeaning 1 : a sudden strong desire to do something without thinking about whether it is a sensible thing to doadjectivesstrong He had a strong impulse to punch Stan in the face.irresistible (=very strong)I felt an irresistible impulse to giggle.a sudden impulseShe felt a sudden impulse to play some music.somebody's first/initial impulseHer first impulse was to turn and walk away.a natural impulseMy natural impulse was to shout for help.verbshave/feel an impulse toRosa had an impulse to tell Henry the truth.resist/control an impulse (=not do something, even though you have an impulse to do it)Derek resisted the impulse to eat any more cake.act on an impulse (=do something because you have a sudden desire to do it)Acting on an impulse, he decided to visit his sister.obey an impulse formal (also yield to an impulse literary) (=do something because you have a sudden very strong desire to do it)Yielding to an impulse, she called him on her mobile phone.impulse + NOUNan impulse buy (=buying something without having planned it)She admitted that the necklace had been an impulse buy.phrasesdo something on impulse (=do something without having planned it)James bought her some flowers on impulse.
Examples from the Corpus
impulseThe first diary entries were no doubt recorded on an impulse, in odd hours in his room in the shophouse.My first impulse was to go straight to Henry and tell him my news, but on reflection I thought better of it.But it was a vague idea, little more, Neville remembers, than an inchoate impulse.In Middle-earth, then, both good and evil function as external powers and as inner impulses from the psyche.It was an outfit that I had bought on impulse, and never worn.On impulse, he reached out and passed his hand through the vapour.The same ultimate specific impulse therefore applies to all three types of system.But the crucial challenge is to translate that spontaneous impulse of generosity into a long-term political commitment to prevent more global warming.Once the impulse is transmitted, the nerve segment recovers to its original state, ready for a new impulse.The impulse of government all over the world is to control information.He has to learn to control his violent impulses.It takes a lot of wrong-way impulses to start a seizure in normal cortex.impulse to do somethingRobbie had to fight down an impulse to reach out and run her fingers over the dark mat.Suddenly I had an impulse to write.This recognition of mortality and the requirement to transcend it is the first great impulse to mythology.I had an almost irresistible impulse to giggle.They were businessmen and found it difficult to restrain their natural impulse to boosterism.Sensory receptors inside the nose send impulses to the brain, triggering the sneeze reflex.In love perhaps was another way to describe being lost, without the impulse to remember where you came from.Their impulse to rule is neither analysed nor questioned.
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