im·​pose | \im-ˈpōz \
imposed; imposing

Definition of impose 

transitive verb

1a : to establish or apply by authority impose a tax impose new restrictions impose penalties

b : to establish or bring about as if by force those limits imposed by our own inadequacies— C. H. Plimpton

2a : place, set

b : to arrange (type, pages, etc.) in the proper order for printing

3 : pass off impose fake antiques on the public

4 : to force into the company or on the attention of another impose oneself on others

intransitive verb

: to take unwarranted advantage of something imposed on his good nature

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Other Words from impose

imposer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for impose


assess, charge, exact, fine, lay, levy, put



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Did You Know?

The Latin imposui meant "put upon", and that meaning carried over into English in impose. A CEO may impose a new manager on one of the company's plants. A state may impose new taxes on luxury items or cigarettes, and the federal government sometimes imposes trade restrictions on another country to punish it. A polite apology might begin with "I hope I'm not imposing on you" (that is, "forcing my presence on you"). And a self-imposed deadline is one that you decide to hold yourself to.

Examples of impose in a Sentence

The judge imposed a life sentence. I needed to break free from the limits imposed by my own fear of failure.

Recent Examples on the Web

American colonists in the 18th century did indeed resent tariffs imposed by the British government on goods imported into the colonies, and their anger over taxes and tariffs incited a rebellion. WSJ, "Tariffs Helped the U.S. Economy Find Its Legs," 13 July 2018 This would be the third round of tariffs on Chinese goods imposed by the Trump administration and comes shortly after a tariff of 25% went into effect against $34 billion of Chinese goods. Hallie Detrick, Fortune, "Trump Just Announced Tariffs on $200 Billion More Chinese Goods. Here's What's Different About This Round," 11 July 2018 The declaration comes as Democrats blame the outbreaks on past budget cuts and regulatory policies imposed by Scott, a Republican who is trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. Victoria Ballard,, "Gov. Scott declares state of emergency over algae bloom," 9 July 2018 In the last few months, Orange County prosecutors sent letters to more than 200 people releasing them from the conditions imposed by local injunctions, according to records reviewed by The Times. James Queally,, "Trump’s claim that California is soft on crime comes as the state moves away from injunctions, once key to the war on gangs," 8 July 2018 Ketchup is among the C$16.6bn ($12.6bn) worth of American goods that are subject to tariffs imposed by Canada to retaliate against American levies on its steel and aluminium. The Economist, "To resist Trump, Canadians try local ketchup," 5 July 2018 The objective of the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the U.S., according to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, is to reduce the U.S. trade deficit and shore up American metal producers. Rick Barrett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "European Union residents, many Harley fans, opine about Trump and tariffs," 5 July 2018 As the top steel producing state, Indiana’s steel and aluminum producers would benefit from the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the administration. Maureen Groppe, Indianapolis Star, "President Trump already leaning on Democrat Donnelly over Supreme Court vacancy," 28 June 2018 Scott Olson / Getty Images Harley-Davidson will shift some production of its iconic motorcycles overseas to avoid retaliatory tariffs imposed by the European Union in response to President Trump’s trade moves. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Trump’s tariffs backfire in his face as Harley-Davidson says it will move some production overseas," 26 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'impose.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of impose

1581, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for impose

Middle French imposer, from Latin imponere, literally, to put upon (perfect indicative imposui), from in- + ponere to put — more at position

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Statistics for impose

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for impose

The first known use of impose was in 1581

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More Definitions for impose



English Language Learners Definition of impose

: to cause (something, such as a tax, fine, rule, or punishment) to affect someone or something by using your authority

: to establish or create (something unwanted) in a forceful or harmful way

: to force someone to accept (something or yourself)


im·​pose | \im-ˈpōz \
imposed; imposing

Kids Definition of impose

1 : to establish or apply as a charge or penalty The judge imposed a fine.

2 : to force someone to accept or put up with Don't impose your beliefs on me.

3 : to ask for more than is fair or reasonable : take unfair advantage Guests imposed on his good nature.

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Comments on impose

What made you want to look up impose? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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