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
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

Last year, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on two top Turkish government officials when Ankara failed to release a detained American pastor. NBC News, "The rift in the relationship between the U.S. and Turkey may be permanent," 15 July 2019 State law imposes a fundraising blackout immediately before, during and after a regular session, but no limits on contributions. Robert T. Garrett, Dallas News, "Texas Gov. Greg Abbott raises $12 million in two weeks, cites ‘success’ of legislative session," 15 July 2019 Washington has imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports. Amy Gunia / Hong Kong, Time, "China's Economic Growth Is at Its Lowest in Almost Three Decades," 15 July 2019 With a transfer ban imposed on Chelsea, letting one of their two main strikers leave the club may seem questionable., "Alvaro Morata: Why Chelsea Will Benefit From the Forward's Departure," 13 July 2019 But in an effort to appeal to players, the league will also impose a limit of games each player can play in the season to 16. Tim Bielik,, "NFL proposes an 18-game regular season schedule: Is it a good idea? (poll)," 12 July 2019 India had imposed tariffs on nearly 30 products as retaliation after the Trump administration announced the U.S. would end trade exemptions for India on June 1. Alan Murray, Fortune, "Accenture’s New CEO Takes On Digital Disruption, and Diversity: CEO Daily," 12 July 2019 Last summer, Washington imposed sanctions on Turkey when Ankara failed to release an American pastor who had been detained as part of post-coup sweeps, prompting a sell-off in the Turkish lira. Ann M. Simmons, WSJ, "Turkey Receives Russian Missile System, Risking U.S. Sanctions," 12 July 2019 Draft legislation introduced Thursday in the United Kingdom would impose a 2% tax on local revenue of large search companies, social media platforms and online marketplaces, starting in 2020. Hadas Gold, CNN, "The UK and US are on a collision course over taxing Big Tech," 12 July 2019

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

18 Jul 2019

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 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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More from Merriam-Webster on impose

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with impose

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for impose

Spanish Central: Translation of impose

Nglish: Translation of impose for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of impose for Arabic Speakers

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).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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