1 sudden strong wish
first, initial, original

My first impulse was to run away.

instinctual, natural
conflicting, contradictory, contrary
aggressive, murderous, violent
feel, have

She felt a sudden impulse to look to her left.

be subject to

We are all subject to aggressive impulses.

be driven by
check, control, deny, fight, resist, restrain, stifle, suppress

He fought down an impulse to scream.

give in to, obey, yield to

She gave in to an impulse and took the money.

act on, follow

Acting on impulse, he picked up the keys and slipped them into his pocket.

buy, purchase

The little black designer dress had been an impulse buy.

item (esp. AmE)

Supermarkets sell candy as impulse items at the checkout counter.

on (an) impulse

Some people will buy a pet on impulse without any idea of what is involved.

On an impulse, I went in and bought a box of chocolates.

impulse towards/toward

basic impulses towards/toward things such as food and drink

2 movement of energy
electrical, nerve, neural

A neuron generates an electrical impulse.

send, transmit

Nerve impulses are transmitted to the brain.

convert sth into, transform sth into

Radio waves are converted into electrical impulses.

3 sth that causes sb/sth to do sth
democratic, political, religious
lead (sb/sth) to sth, prompt sb/sth (to do sth)

the impulse that prompted economic change

impulse behind

the impulse behind a concept

impulse for

the impulse for social reform

impulse towards/toward

the political impulses towards/toward joining a trade union

Collocations dictionary. 2013.

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  • impulse — [n1] drive, resolve actuation, appeal, bent, caprice, catalyst, desire, disposition, excitant, extemporization, fancy, feeling, flash*, goad, hunch, impellent, impulsion, incitation, incitement, inclination, influence, inspiration, instinct,… …   New thesaurus

  • impulse — [im′puls΄] n. [L impulsus < pp. of impellere: see IMPEL] 1. a) an impelling, or driving forward with sudden force b) an impelling force; sudden, driving force; push; thrust; impetus c) the motion or effect caused by such a force 2 …   English World dictionary

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