tar·​iff | \ ˈter-əf How to pronounce tariff (audio) , ˈta-rəf \

Definition of tariff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a schedule of duties imposed by a government on imported or in some countries exported goods
b : a duty or rate of duty imposed in such a schedule
2 : a schedule of rates or charges of a business or a public utility


tariffed; tariffing; tariffs

Definition of tariff (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to subject to a tariff

Examples of tariff in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Notably, the vote reassures farmers, manufacturers and other businesses that tariff-free trade will continue in North America. William Mauldin, WSJ, "Senate Passes USMCA, New North American Trade Pact," 16 Jan. 2020 Still, the optimists hope for an agreement on the most basic issue: a tariff-free trade deal. Mark Landler, New York Times, "And You Thought Brexit Was Tough …," 8 Jan. 2020 Trump's trade and tariff policies, which, in many cases, have been opposed by Detroit automakers, have also caused export problems for many Michigan farmers. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "Trump's day: Impeachment in D.C.; 'four more years' in Battle Creek," 19 Dec. 2019 Beijing has threatened to retaliate if Sunday’s tariff hike goes ahead. Paul Wiseman, The Denver Post, "Trump says U.S. and China have reached deal, planned tariffs off," 13 Dec. 2019 Beijing has threatened to retaliate if Sunday's tariff hike goes ahead. Joe Mcdonald, Fortune, "Beijing Complains of ‘Unjustified Restrictions and Crackdowns’ as U.S.-China Trade Deal Hopes Rise," 13 Dec. 2019 The survival of the incumbent telcos clearly hinges on government and regulatory support, more than mere tariff hikes. Mansi Taneja, Quartz India, "Even after a 40% hike, India has the cheapest data rates in the world—and that’s a problem," 10 Dec. 2019 Before the trade war, U.S. hardwood exports to China were tariff-free; today, species such as North American red oak, the largest single export, are subject to 25% levies with further hikes on the cards. Charlie Campbell / Shanghai, Time, "How the Trade War is Hurting the U.S. Lumber Industry and Forests Around the World," 27 Nov. 2019 Additionally, trade between the US and Mexico is, and has been, tariff-free since 1994. Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, "Trump to spend $300 million on “quality assurance” after border wall easily breached," 6 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In public, Chinese officials call Mr Trump’s tariffs self-defeating and stress their country’s economic resilience. The Economist, "400-pound rivals China views Donald Trump’s America with growing distrust and scorn," 2 Jan. 2020 If Trump continues to tariff Chinese goods, the real losers will be the American consumers, manufacturers and farmers who will bear the costs. Leo Hindery Jr. For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "Tariffs are hurting Americans. Here are other ways Trump can punish China," 11 Sep. 2019 Thus, American retailers and consumers will likely not get stuck with the extra cost for those goods tariffed in December. James D. Schultz For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "Trump's trade war with China will be worth the fight," 15 Aug. 2019 Chief Executive Officer Martin Wong said his company, a rival to Inventec, has also shifted some notebook lines to Taiwan and was considering investing more in Vietnam should tariff-conflicts persist. Katherine Dunn, Fortune, "As Trade War Escalates, Tech Companies Flee Mainland China," 13 Aug. 2019 Fifty-three-foot shipping containers are essential for trucking and rail transportation, and big companies like J.B Hunt and CSX said that tariffing them would make all kinds of freight shipments more expensive. Lydia Depillis, ProPublica, "Bibles but Not Textbooks: Trump’s Tariff Exemptions Pick Winners and Losers," 22 Aug. 2019 The Buffalo plant may be the latest indicator that tariffs on steel imports imposed by President Donald Trump are giving a lending hand to the U.S. steel industry. Erin Douglas, Houston Chronicle, "Steel mill to open near Corpus Christi expected to create 600 jobs," 23 July 2019 Which means the primary beneficiary of the Trump administration’s proposal to tariff Chinese tennis balls will likely be … a Chinese company. Catherine Rampell, The Denver Post, "Rampell: Trump’s proposed tennis ball tariff represents a grand slam of terrible trade policy," 30 June 2019 With the recent tariff increase on Chinese goods to 25%, and threats to tariff an additional $300 billion in Chinese goods, companies like mine, Canary LLC, are increasingly looking at new suppliers to avoid levies and preserve profits. Dan K. Eberhart For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "Trump's trade war is here to stay. Companies like mine will pay the price," 11 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tariff.' 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 tariff


1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1828, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tariff


Italian tariffa, from Arabic taʽrīf notification

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Time Traveler for tariff

Time Traveler

The first known use of tariff was in 1592

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Statistics for tariff

Last Updated

20 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tariff.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tariff. Accessed 26 January 2020.

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More Definitions for tariff



Financial Definition of tariff

What It Is

A tariff is a tax on imports or exports. Money collected under a tariff is called a duty or customs duty. Tariffs are used by governments to generate revenue or to protect domestic industries from competition.

How It Works

There are generally two types of tariffs. Ad valorem tariffs are calculated as a fixed percentage of the value of the imported good. When the international price of a good rises or falls, so does the tariff. A specific tariff is a fixed amount of money that does not vary with the price of the good. In some cases, both the ad valorem and specific tariffs are levied on the same product.

For example, Company XYZ produces cheese in Scotland and exports the cheese, which costs $100 per pound, to the United States. A 20% ad valorem tariff would require Company XYZ to pay the U.S. government $20 to export the cheese. A specific tax would involve charging $30 dollars per pound of cheese whether cheese sold for $100 or $200 per pound.

Why It Matters

Import and export taxes make it more expensive for users of foreign goods, causing a decline in imports, a decline in the supply of the good, and a resulting increase in the price of the good. The price increase usually motivates domestic producers to increase their output of the product.

Some economists argue that the resulting higher consumer prices, higher producer revenues and profits, and higher government revenues make tariff s a way to effectively transfer money from consumers to government treasuries. Some economists also argue that tariffs interfere with free market ideals by diverting resources to domestic industries that are less efficient than foreign producers.

Source: Investing Answers


How to pronounce tariff (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tariff

: a tax on goods coming into or leaving a country
chiefly British : a list of prices charged by a hotel or restaurant for meals, rooms, etc., or by a public company for gas, electricity, etc.


tar·​iff | \ ˈter-əf How to pronounce tariff (audio) \

Kids Definition of tariff

1 : a list of taxes placed by a government on goods coming into a country
2 : the tax or the rate of taxation set up in a tariff list

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tar·​iff | \ ˈtar-əf How to pronounce tariff (audio) \

Legal Definition of tariff

1a : a schedule of duties imposed by a government on imported or in some countries exported goods
b : a duty or rate of duty imposed in such a schedule
2 : a document filed with the appropriate government agency that sets forth the rates, charges, and other provisions pertaining to services furnished by a business (as a carrier) or public utility

History and Etymology for tariff

Italian tariffa, from Arabic taʽrīf notification

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Comments on tariff

What made you want to look up tariff? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express in a more acceptable way

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