As I recall, I heard this on the NBC Evening News the other night, and again on National Public Radio this morning. It is a dreadful word:
Yes, some dictionaries have it, like Merriam Webster online, which defines it like this: “having a forceful impact; producing a marked impression (impactful song lyrics, impactful humanitarian efforts)”
But seriously, does it sound good to say that “I found War and Peace to be a very impactful novel”, or “I heard Taylor Swift’s latest album that dropped today, and it was really impactful”? (There’s another bad word in there.) Is there any sentence in which that word sounds good?
Further, the word is imprecise, for it doesn’t really say anything about the nature of the impact. Was it good or bad? How did it affect you or the situation? It’s less precise to say, for instance, that “the last several paragraphs of The Dead were very impactful” than to say even that “the last several paragraphs of The Dead were deeply moving.”
It’s time to ditch this odious bit of English, chucking it in the bin with “grow” as a transitive verb not referring to plants, and “at that point in time” as a replacement for “at that time” or “then”.