verb im·pose \ im-ˈpōz \
|Updated on: 1 Aug 2018

Definition of impose

imposed; imposing
1 a : 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 a : 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
: to take unwarranted advantage of something
  • imposed on his good nature



Examples of impose in a Sentence

  1. The judge imposed a life sentence.

  2. I needed to break free from the limits imposed by my own fear of failure.

Recent Examples of impose from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of impose

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

IMPOSE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of impose for English Language Learners

  • : 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)

IMPOSE Defined for Kids


verb im·pose \ im-ˈpōz \

Definition of impose for Students

imposed; imposing
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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