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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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 corporate tax debate comes as the Biden administration is working to establish a global minimum tax of at least 15%, with 130 countries and jurisdictions earlier this month signing on to an agreement that would impose such a tax on companies. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, 8 July 2021 On the last day of the 2021 session, the legislature passed the Farmworker Bill of Rights, which would impose burdensome new wage and labor laws on the agricultural industry. Ben Murrey, National Review, 2 July 2021 Since the November election, at least 22 new laws in 14 states have been enacted that impose new restrictions on voting, alarming Democrats and voting rights groups who say the measures are a threat to one of the pillars of democracy. New York Times, 1 July 2021 North Dakota cities and counties that impose local sales taxes have received nearly $15 million through the first half of this year, the Bismarck Tribune reported. Brieanna J. Frank, The Arizona Republic, 27 June 2021 Texas Democrats walked off the floor just before midnight on May 31 to deny quorum needed to vote on Senate Bill 7, which would impose a slew of election changes, in regular session. Morgan Phillips, Fox News, 26 June 2021 The University of California Board of Regents on Wednesday tightened UC’s rules on affiliations with hospitals that impose religious restrictions on care. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 23 June 2021 Bawa and Stein are working to pass AB1199, a bill that would impose a tax on corporate landlords that rent out 10 or more properties and require companies to disclose their owner information on public documents. Susie Neilson, San Francisco Chronicle, 21 June 2021 The result is that low-tax states are getting richer while those that impose higher taxes are getting poorer. Allysia Finley And Kate Lavoie, WSJ, 10 June 2021

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

22 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Impose.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on impose

Nglish: Translation of impose for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of impose for Arabic Speakers


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