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 While civic society in Nigeria is stepping up the fight to free Sowore and all those in government detention, Nigerian lawmakers are advancing a bill in the senate that would impose death sentence for hate speech. Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo, Quartz Africa, "A New York-based journalist has become the face of shrinking press freedom in Nigeria," 16 Nov. 2019 Additionally, imposing restrictions on the times the home is available for showings can dissuade traffic. Shannon Cobb Evans, Houston Chronicle, "Realtor View: What should you do to help sell your home?," 9 Nov. 2019 Aceh is the only province in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country that imposes Sharia law. Fox News, "Indonesian man who helped write strict adultery law publicly flogged for affair," 2 Nov. 2019 Officials tried in 2006 to put a pit bull ban in place that would impose costly restrictions on owners, such as liability insurance, and require visitors with dangerous dogs to get a permit. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "4-year-old Hazel Park boy fatally mauled by pit bull, mother hospitalized," 30 Oct. 2019 Many large unlisted companies create whistleblower mechanisms that impose an obligation on employees to disclose wrongdoing, but the company is under no legal obligation to take a specific corrective action if a complaint is received. Abhyuday Agarwal, Quartz India, "Everything you need to know about whistleblowing in India beyond Infosys," 30 Oct. 2019 The moms hope their walk will pressure the Illinois Senate to act on a bill that would impose new background check requirements when guns are transferred between private parties, Mitchell said. Marie Fazio,, "Moms marching from Indiana to Illinois to spotlight ease of gun trafficking: ‘I want to bring purpose to (my son’s) death’," 25 Oct. 2019 Cook's addition will only strengthen a midfield that is already imposing., "Ranking All 20 Premier League Midfields From Worst to Best," 18 Oct. 2019 The South Carolina senator stood alongside senators of both parties, including Chris Van Hollen, Marsha Blackburn and Jeanne Shaheen, and introduced legislation that would impose further sanctions on Turkey over its invasion into northern Syria. CBS News, "Lindsey Graham addresses Trump: "I will hold you accountable" over treatment of Kurdish allies," 17 Oct. 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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Time Traveler for impose

Time Traveler

The first known use of impose was in 1581

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Statistics for impose

Last Updated

21 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Impose.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 November 2019.

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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).


not agreeing with established beliefs

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