"Urgency" comes close to what I want. For example, a painful sensation has urgency (may be more or less urgent), and may compel me sooner or later to change position, take aspirin, etc. Similarly, a full bladder has a quality that compels an obvious response.

What I don't like about "urgency" is the emphasis on how soon the response needs to come.

I like "exigent", except, as with "urgent", there seems to be emphasis on timeliness. Also, there doesn't seem to be a word for how exigent something might be ("exigency" means that which is required not how much something is required). Another problem is that "exigent" also means "requiring or calling for much" which is not what I want.

"Demanding" is good, but "demandingness"??

"Pressing" (and ?"pressingness") and "imperative" (?"imperativeness) are also near what I want. "Priority" too is close, but I think is better used to describe a property of tasks rather than perceptions or thoughts. Also, "priority" emphasizes the ordering of competing options, which is not what I want.

I would like to say something like, "The thought of one's own death has great urgency, even though there is nothing to be done about it," but I don't like "urgency" here because I don't want to highlight how soon it needs to be done, rather, how much something needs to be done.

Edit: To clarify in response to comments below, I am mainly interested in a noun that names a property or quality of some mental phenomenon (thoughts, sensations, emotions). Adjectives would then be applied to the property.

To give a concrete example, 'height' (a noun) is a property of a person. A person's height could be tall or short (adjectives). Likewise, an emotion might have urgency. Its urgency could be urgent or not urgent.

  • 'Import' is in the right area, but have you looked up the terms you suggest in a thesaurus or dictionary? Other synonyms may be suggested. // Please don't ask for DIY candidate words; this is expressly off-topic on ELU, which looks at serious English, established usage. Nov 5, 2019 at 14:33
  • I did look them up in a thesaurus, but wasn't satisfied. sorry about the DIY request. I'm new here. I'll edit it out.
    – ratchet
    Nov 5, 2019 at 14:35
  • I like 'import'. Thank you. But I think that a feeling or thought could have import without seeming to require any response.
    – ratchet
    Nov 5, 2019 at 14:56
  • 1
    I can't see whether you're looking for a noun or an adjective. You've mentioned quite a few adjectives (exigent, pressing, imperative) but your sample sentence uses a noun (urgency).
    – Centaurus
    Nov 5, 2019 at 15:43
  • Does it need to be exclusively instigated by a thought or feeling, and exclusively incite a response?
    – Joachim
    Nov 5, 2019 at 16:17

6 Answers 6


I don't want to highlight how soon it needs to be done, rather, how much something needs to be done.

In many companies, I've seen a chart that plots urgency against importance:

1 a : the quality or state of being important : CONSEQUENCE
1 b : an important aspect or bearing : SIGNFICANCE

In other words:

The thought of one's own death has great importance, even though there is nothing to be done about it.

Note that a synonym of urgent is pressing, so neither it nor the suggested pressingness can really be what's sought here. If the question seeks an answer that avoids urgent, it also needs to avoid that synonym. (And saying that it's actually close to what's sought is an odd statement.)


"warrants" (verb): justify or necessitate (a certain course of action)
Example: His question warranted a response from the people.

  • This would be improved by including a source for your definition. Nov 5, 2019 at 14:53
  • Thanks for the answer, but this is not what I am looking for. I feeling or thought could warrant an action, but what I want that quality or property of a feeling or thought that it does warrant some action.
    – ratchet
    Nov 5, 2019 at 14:58

Perhaps compelling.

Thought about one's own death are compelling.

From Dictionary:

Compelling: tending to compel, as to force or push toward a course of action; overpowering: There were compelling reasons for their divorce.

  • I'd say the best answer, but the first synonym given for 'urgency' at Thesaurus.com. Nov 5, 2019 at 15:23
  • My reason for downvoting: not a noun by most standards, which is what OP has asked for.
    – Lordology
    Nov 6, 2019 at 19:36

Have you considered jog, as in 'to jog one's memory'?

From Dictionary.com:

to push slightly, as to arouse the attention; nudge;
to stir or jolt into activity or alertness, as by a hint or reminder


Thoughts, emotions, and feelings may not have a height but they have weight:

the ability of someone or something to influence decisions or actions —Lexico/Oxford


I think one or more of desire, impulse, or intensity may be applicable.

From Google (perhaps from Dictionaries from Oxford Languages):


noun: desire; plural noun: desires
a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.
"a desire to work in the dirt with your bare hands"


noun: impulse; plural noun: impulses
a sudden strong and unreflective urge or desire to act.
"I had an almost irresistible impulse to giggle"


noun: intensity; plural noun: intensities
1. the quality of being intense.
"the pain grew in intensity"

2. the measurable amount of a property, such as force, brightness, or a magnetic field.
"hydrothermal processes of low intensity"

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