Grammar 8 min read

Impactful: Definition and Why You Might Want to Avoid it

Main Impactful Takeaways:

  • Impactful definition: “having forceful impact” or “making a marked impression”.
  • ⚠️ Watch Out! Some people don’t care for this word because they feel it’s unnecessary and cumbersome. For this reason, it might be better to use another word.
  • Depending on the context, synonyms for impactful include significant, important, compelling, gripping, consequential, and major.
  • Some antonyms are ineffective, counterproductive, and weak.
  • The word first emerged during the 1960s.
  • People can be impactful. An impactful person has helped change your life, your point of view, or even the course of history.

This is your comprehensive guide to the adjective impactful, including what it means, how to use it, and why some people hate it.

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I haven’t heard any classical music that is more impactful than the works of Mozart.
(Synonym) I haven’t heard any classical music that is more compelling than the works of Mozart.
The book was so impactful, I bought a dozen copies and sent them to all my friends.
Gandhi, Michelle Obama, and Albert Einstein are all very impactful people.
My skating coach helped me win the Olympics, making her the most impactful person in my life.
Three panels. 1st panel shows a guy looking outside his window at the polluted city. 2nd panel shows a man working in his laboratory. 3rd panel shows the same man receiving an award for his work on stopping pollution. Text reads: A truly impactful invention that changed the world for the better.
Impactful means producing a marked impression. Some modern editors and grammarians have a negative view of this word, so it’s best to use its synonyms like effective and influential.

Is Impactful a Word?

Impactful is a relatively new word that means “having a forceful impact” or “producing a marked impression.” Since appearing in the 1960s, it’s become somewhat controversial. For example, this word may annoy some readers that consider it redundant, cumbersome, and even empty verbiage. While it is a word, consider using synonyms like significant, influential, compelling, and effective. These will help express your thoughts with more clarity and richer detail.

In other words, this adjective means to leave a mark or refers to something of significance.

Why Do People Hate the Word Impactful?

The original definition was “manifesting a great effect or impact.” As you can see, that hasn’t changed much.

Notwithstanding, some contemporary editors have a negative view of this word. In fact, they regard it as unwieldy or even mangled. Essentially, their view may be that it’s ugly and doesn’t add much.

First, grammatically speaking, it doesn’t follow all the rules. Some of this discord is because the word is so new. Furthermore, traditionalists are usually weary of change.

Others argue that preexisting words such as effective and influential work just fine (and even better), making this new word a needless invention.

Regardless, it is a real word and here to stay. Whether or not you use it depends on what you are trying to say, your personal style, and your audience.

What’s Another Way of Saying Impactful?

Some may consider words like dynamic, significant, pivotal and gripping to be better than using the controversial word impactful. It’s important to note that since the word has several, slightly different definitions, which impactful synonym you choose depends on what you want to say. For example, for something that has “a significant impact,” you might find that major or important are better words for your purpose. Or, for something that is “significantly important or urgent,” words like affecting and consequential might convey more.

Here are some of the best impactful synonyms:

  • Effectual
  • Affecting
  • Productive
  • Consequential
  • Dynamic
  • Eventful
  • Important
  • Significant
  • Forceful
  • Potent
  • Stimulating
  • Pivotal
  • Monumental
  • Convincing
  • Inspirational
  • Provoking
  • Gripping
  • Emotional
  • Persuasive
  • Major

What is an Impactful Example?

The meaning of impactful is to have a major impact or effect. Usually, we use this adjective to describe people or things that leave a mark. For instance, they’re memorable and may even cause other people to change their minds or act. Perhaps you read a book that was impactful because it made you want to become a writer. Or, maybe your trip to Thailand was impactful because of what you saw or learned there.

Impactful Examples:

  • An article you found striking and memorable.
  • An event that helped change a community.
  • People who shape our shared narrative and inspire the average person to act.
It will take an impactful donation to keep our community center open for another year.
On my list of 100 most impactful performances, Zip by Rita Hayworth in the 1957 musical My Pal Joey might be at the top.
Is impactful a word? Two young men talking. The guy on the left is saying
Impactful is a relatively new word that means “having a forceful impact” or “producing a marked impression.”

How Do You Use Impactful in a Sentence?

There are two ways to use the word impactful in a sentence: 1) to describe something that has a significant effect, or 2) to describe something that is likely to influence how others think and feel. Let’s take a look at both.

The first can be a subjective statement in which you may describe something that has a deep, outside-in impact. In this way, you use the word impactful to add perspective and to better define the subject of your sentence.

People are still shaken to this day, considering Katrina is one of the most impactful hurricanes in the last twenty years.

The second can be an objective statement in which you are describing something that is likely to touch people’s emotions or make them think.

Isn’t this impactful? Doesn’t it make you feel powerful that you have all these resources at your disposal?

Below are more examples of the word impactful being used in a sentence:

If you want to be impactful, choose something you’re passionate about and share it with the world.
The rally was so impactful, I went and signed up to vote the very next day.
Most notably, the events of September 11, 2001, were some of the most impactful in modern times.
Steve Vai’s impactful performances helped me become the guitar player I am today.

📝 Impactful can mean that something or someone is:

  1. Influential or monumental
  2. Effective or efficient
  3. Significant, important, or major
  4. Compelling, persuasive, or convincing
  5. Emotional or gripping
  6. Forceful or potent (like an impact)

1. Influential or Monumental Examples

I’ve never met a more impactful person than my grandma. Her ability to take care of ten kids during the depression is nothing short of inspiring.
It’s hard to believe a college dropout could be so impactful, but Steve Jobs’ contributions to technology can’t be denied.

2. Effective or Efficient Examples

Nevertheless, the financial literacy program was the most impactful community initiative launched in the last 50 years.
Interestingly, the new printer was incredible impactful in reducing our annual expenses.

3. Significant, Important, or Major Examples

The first time I heard an aria was the single most impactful moment of my musical career.
Therefore, the decision to enter World War II was an impactful event for the end of US isolationism.

4. Compelling, Persuasive, or Convincing Examples

The impactful words of Martin Luther King Jr. are still remembered and admired to this day.

5. Emotional or Gripping Examples

The victim’s statement was so impactful, it brought the entire courtroom to tears.

6. Forceful or Potent (Like an Impact) Examples

The dictator delivered his remarks with exaggerated gestures and an impactful tone.
A woman pointing to a board containing the synonyms to the word impactful like effectual, affective, and productive.
Some may consider words like dynamic, significant, pivotal and gripping to be better than using the controversial word impactful.

What Does an Impactful Person Mean?

An impactful person means that someone is important, persuasive, or monumental. Do you know someone who helped you change your life? That’s an example of an impactful person, or a person that made a great impact. They’re also influential, or skilled communicators that often inspire others to take action. Celebrities, historical figures, and politicians are examples of impactful people. They’ve all had a significant impact on our lives, or society, and/or the way the world has evolved.

If Mrs. Kohl hadn’t been such an impactful teacher, I don’t know if I would’ve gone on to graduate.
When you talk about physics, perhaps no historical figure has been more impactful than Isaac Newton.

What is the Opposite of Impactful?

Since the definition of impactful is to have an impact, it follows that the opposite of impactful is to have little or no impact. In fact, antonyms for impactful include ineffectual, trivial, unimpressive, and forgettable.

Here are some words that mean the opposite of impactful:

  • Ineffective
  • Unaffecting
  • Weak
  • Feckless
  • Ineffectual
  • Powerless
  • Trivial
  • Pointless
  • Frail
  • Impotent
  • Feeble
  • Inadequate
  • Flimsy
  • Inept
  • Boring
  • Forgettable
  • Meager
  • Unmoving
  • Unstirring
  • Unimpressive
  • Useless

Have our words had any impact? Use these PRO tips to create more impactful essays, books, or emails. Plus, express yourself as clearly as possible.

Let’s Test how Impactful This Article is to you!

Impactful Question #1

Which of these statements is FALSE about “Impactful”?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is D. “Impactful” is an adjective that means to leave a mark.

Impactful Definition Question #2

The word “impactful” is controversial among contemporary editors.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is TRUE. Some editors argue that preexisting words such as “effective” and “influential” work just fine.

Impactful Synonym Question #3

Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is A. “Feckless” is the opposite of “impactful”.

Impactful Question #4

“Impactful” can mean that someone or something is ______.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is D. You can use “impactful” to convey all of the above.

Impactful Synonym Question #5

Which of these is NOT the opposite of impactful?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is C. “Persuasive” is another word for “impactful.”

Impactful Quiz Result
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Read More: Verbiage: What it is, how to Pronounce it, and how to Avoid it

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Pam Weber

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, Writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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