1540s, "of a dominating character," from Latin imperiosus "commanding, mighty, powerful," from imperium "empire, command" (see empire). Formerly also emperious. Meaning "imperial" is from 1580s. Related: Imperiously; imperiousness.
Imperious applies to the spirit or manner of the person ruling or giving a command, and of rule in general; imperative, to the nature of a command. An imperious person is determined to have his will obeyed; imperious rule is characterized by the haughty, overbearing, and determined nature of the ruler. [Century Dictionary]