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



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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 Lucido had imposed the half-million-dollar bond on the grounds that Vanderhagen had violated his original $1,000 bond by continuing to post his complaints about Rancilio. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "Judge takes stand in trial of man accused of criticizing her on Facebook," 13 Sep. 2019 Tariffs of 25% that were imposed previously on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods were due to rise to 30% on Oct. 1. CBS News, "Trump delays China tariff increase by 2 weeks as "gesture of good will"," 12 Sep. 2019 The moment a debtor files its petition, an automatic stay is imposed on creditors, which operates like a pause button on any collection efforts, litigation or similar actions. Lindsey Simon, The Conversation, "How corporate bankruptcy works," 12 Sep. 2019 Chris Mack has rebuilt U of L basketball into a team widely seen as a national contender, but his program continues to be clouded by the Bowen investigation and the possibility new sanctions may be imposed. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Progress not visible in talks between Rick Pitino and the U of L Athletic Association," 10 Sep. 2019 But his sentence was never imposed and a judge granted a new sentencing hearing in the case, which is still under appeal. Beth Kassab,, "Just 1 new death sentence since cases taken from Ayala, as impact of unanimous jury rule felt," 5 Sep. 2019 The second reason is the trade war that's imposed tariffs of 10% to 25% on tens of billions of the Chinese imports. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "Corporate Earnings are Flatlining—and That’s Terrible News for the Stock Market," 31 Aug. 2019 The cannabis tax is imposed on cultivators when pot is sold or transferred from a grow facility to a retail shop or product manufacturer. Becky Bohrer, Anchorage Daily News, "As marijuana prices tumble, Alaska’s licensed growers worry about taxes," 28 Aug. 2019 And that would poke adversaries in the eye, after Israel has gone out of its way to impose operational limitations upon itself to avoid infringing on U.S. interests. Gilead Sher, Time, "Netanyahu's Defense Treaty with Trump Is a Bad Idea. Just as Well It's Only a Gimmick," 16 Sep. 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

24 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for impose

The first known use of impose was in 1581

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on impose

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for impose

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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 agreement to stop fighting a war

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