Initiative Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

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The people most likely to succeed in life are those who are productive and effective without being told precisely what to do. These people show initiative, which is an essential quality to have in the modern world. They can find ways to improve themselves and the world around them in powerful ways, even if they haven’t been given a specific goal by someone else. 

This quality could genuinely change your life if you take the time to develop it within yourself and your character. If you want to learn more about what it is and how it works, you’ve come to the right place.

Here is everything you need to know about what the word Initiative means, how to use it properly, and why it’s so important! 

What Is the Definition of Initiative? 

The word “initiative” (ˈnɪʃətɪv, ɪˈnɪʃətɪv, ini-tia-tive) in American English is defined as a willingness to do something without being told or forced into it. When someone has initiative, they can take action independently and are not afraid of making decisions without consulting others first. This can be both positive and negative, depending on the situation.

A person with initiative will likely succeed in many areas of life because they know how important it is to act independently when needed. 

To have initiative is to take charge of your own life and do what you think is best, rather than being told what to do. It’s important because it means you can work independently and make decisions on your own instead of relying on others for direction.

If someone has initiative, they can achieve their goals without being told how those goals should be reached or by whom. They’ll understand what needs to be done to meet their objectives, but they don’t need anyone else telling them how those things should get done — they’ll just go ahead and get everything done on their own!

If you were to look in a thesaurus for word lists of synonyms for the word initiative, you’d likely find words including: 

  • Inventiveness
  • Opening move
  • Drive
  • Vigor
  • Leadership
  • Enterprise
  • Capability
  • Vision
  • Pep
  • Ingenuity

What is the Etymology of the Word Initiative? 

The word initiative refers to a state of readiness or preparedness. The word comes from the Latin verb initio (meaning “to begin”), which is itself derived from in– (“in”) and itus (“going”), thus literally meaning “to go into.” 

The etymology of the English verb “initiate” may be traced back to this very same Latin root. It originally meant “to begin” or “to start” something and has since expanded its meaning to include many other actions related to starting things off. 

For example, you can use the word initiate when talking about someone who starts an organization or group; or if something is initiated by another person or thing. For instance, if someone initiates a discussion with you because they want your opinion on something important. 

What Is a Government Initiative? 

Another standard definition of initiative is used within the context of government. Governments create initiatives to improve their citizens’ health, education, and well-being. These programs are designed by governments and funded with taxpayer money. 

They can be initiated at any level of government (local, state, or federal), which means that initiatives can be created by your city council or national government.

An excellent example is Medicare, a government-sponsored health insurance program that helps pay for medical expenses for seniors in the United States who meet specific eligibility requirements. 

Other policy initiatives include organizations set up by the United Nations and other international organizations to deal with significant issues such as homelessness, pandemics, and global peace. One of these is the New Peace initiative. 

Examples of Initiative Being Used in a Sentence

One of the best ways to learn how to use words is by seeing them used in real-world situations and conversations. Here are some example sentences of the term used in contexts that you might see used in the real world. Once you’ve grasped what it means, feel free to start using it in your own speech and communication! 

As one of the primary electors, I’ve focused on my initiative to build my election platform. 

Due to the lack of initiative, they were let go by their employers after just a couple of weeks. 

Her initiatory character is probably one of the main reasons she got hired at her current job! 

Aubrie took the initiative to organize all the word forms, which helped clarify which words were adverbs and which weren’t. 

The referendum on the initiative was one of the most controversial aspects of recent American politics. 

Danielle took the initiative to get the word of the day aspect of our website up and running in a timely manner. 

The CEO at HarperCollins Publishers took the initiative to ensure that all of their employees knew exactly what to do. 


Hopefully, these tips will help you improve your communication skills in your own life. There’s no denying that communication is essential, and the key to improving it is practicing effectively. So make sure you use these tips often and try them in all situations. You never know what benefits they might bring!

We encourage you to check out The Word Counter if you want to learn more ways to maximize your writing abilities, increase your confidence in speech, and eliminate communication barriers. Our blog may be able to answer some of the questions you have on language or improve some of your methods as a writer. 


Initiative Definition & Meaning |

Initiative – Definition, Meaning & Synonyms |

Initiative definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary