Meaning of “impulse” in the English Dictionary

"impulse" in British English

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uk /ˈɪm.pʌls/ us /ˈɪm.pʌls/

impulse noun (WISH)

C2 [ C + to infinitive ] a sudden strong wish to do something:

I had this sudden impulse to shout out "Nonsense!" in the middle of her speech.
on (an) impulse

C2 because you suddenly want to, although you haven't planned to:

"I didn't know you were looking for some new shoes." "Oh, I wasn't - I just bought them on impulse."

impulse noun (REASON)

[ C usually singular ] formal something that is the driving force behind or reason for something else:

(Definition of “impulse” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"impulse" in American English

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impulse noun (DESIRE)

us /ˈɪm·pʌls/ [ C/U ] a sudden, strong desire to do something:

[ + to infinitive ] I had this impulse to dye my hair red.

us /ˈɪm·pʌls/ [ C/U ] If you do something on impulse, you do it because you suddenly want to:

[ U ] I bought this expensive sweater on impulse.

impulse noun (SIGNAL)

us /ˈɪm·pʌls/ [ C ] a short electrical signal that carries information or instructions between the parts of a system:

nerve impulses

impulse noun (FORCE)

physics /ˈɪm·pʌls/ [ U ] the force that is working on an object multiplied by the amount of time it is working

(Definition of “impulse” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)