im·​pose | \ im-ˈpōz How to pronounce impose (audio) \
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
2 : to force into the company or on the attention of another impose oneself on others
3a : place, set
b : to arrange (type, pages, etc.) in the proper order for printing
4 : pass off impose fake antiques on the public

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



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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 The state will impose a budget ceiling of $175,000 for all legal services before and during a trial. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, "Whitmer sets caps on legal bills for state officials as AG hands down new Flint charges," 14 Jan. 2021 Most countries impose certain limits on freedom of speech—Germany, for instance, specifically regulates hate speech online—but in the US, freedom of expression, as enshrined in the first amendment, is all but unlimited. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "How to make sense of Angela Merkel’s criticism of the Trump Twitter ban," 12 Jan. 2021 Under the proposals, the ethics office could impose fines and refer matters to a special counsel for investigation. New York Times, "Beyond Impeachment, a Push for Ethics Laws That Do Not Depend on Shame," 11 Jan. 2021 Vietnam will impose tariffs of between 4.43% and 25.22% on imports from 16 Chinese steel producers, according to a decision by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, describing the move as anti dumping. Mai Ngoc Chau,, "Vietnam Imposes as Much as 25.22% Tariffs on Steel From China," 23 Dec. 2020 Last spring, Idaho’s Brad Little was among the country’s first conservative governors to impose public-health orders. Michael Ames, The New Yorker, "How Ammon Bundy Helped Foment an Anti-Masker Rebellion in Idaho," 21 Dec. 2020 Its neighboring state, the state of Mexico, will also impose the measures, which include the suspension of all nonessential activity between December 19 and January 10, 2021. Natalie Gallón, CNN, "Mexico City will take 'extraordinary measures' to stop surge in Covid-19 deaths," 18 Dec. 2020 As part of a proposal, some members of the Sackler family have offered a $3 billion settlement in hopes the bankruptcy court will impose a global settlement to end the sprawling litigation, and also provide family members with immunity. Ed Silverman @pharmalot, STAT, "Sackler family members deny responsibility for the opioid crisis in a rare public appearance," 17 Dec. 2020 The measure will also impose new disclosure requirements for some campaign contributions in particular races. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "Election audit confirms win for Ballot Measure 2 and Alaska’s new ranked-choice voting system," 15 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for impose

Time Traveler

The first known use of impose was in 1581

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Statistics for impose

Last Updated

23 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Impose.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for impose


How to pronounce impose (audio)

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 How to pronounce impose (audio) \
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

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