Origin of the word
The Latin ‘initium’ meaning ‘a beginning’ is linked to the verb ‘initiare’ and the past participle ‘initiatus’. In 16th century French, the noun initiative had evolved and from 1775 onwards, the meaning ‘power of beginning or starting’ came into use. In 1793, the denotation shifted to ‘an inclination or tendency to take the lead’ (1) and by 1815 the phrase ‘take the initiative’ was also being used (4).
Related words: initiate, initial.
Today, ‘initiate’ and ‘initial’ are words used to focus on ‘beginnings’, while initiative is used in the context of those who begin things, either as a problem-solving exercise (2) (4) or as a route to independence (1).
“Love Swimming is a new initiative by Swim England which encourages families to swap their screens for swimsuits and shorts, putting devices aside once a week and instead visiting the local pool to spend some quality family time.” BBC. 23rd October 2017: Love Swimming: Swim England initiative encourages families to put gadgets away (2).
“One way to show initiative at work is to invest time and energy into performing current job tasks extremely well. Employers value workers who show dedication to their job by doing things such as working extra hours to ensure a task is completed on schedule.” (1) (4)
Reference. What are some examples of initiative in the workplace?
1. the ability to decide in an independent way what to do and when to do it
2. an important action that is intended to solve a problem
3. a process by which people can suggest a new law by signing a petition
4. the opportunity to take action before other people do