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
3 : price, charge


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

Legal experts say Trump’s use of an emergency declaration to impose tariffs is on legally questionable ground. NBC News, "Biden campaign's self-inflicted error is one it can't really afford," 5 June 2019 The latest example is Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on Mexico in a bid to stop migration. Daniel Flatley, Fortune, "What Trump Gains by Seeing ‘Emergencies’ All Around Him," 5 June 2019 Whatever policy response ensues, our confrontation with China goes well beyond trade and tariffs. Therese Shaheen, National Review, "China’s ‘New Long March’," 5 June 2019 There’s also a concern Mexico would put countervailing tariffs on the U.S. goods if the new trade war escalates. Ana Radelat, courant.com, "Mexican tariffs could cost CT consumers up to $626 million, U.S. Chamber of Commerce says," 5 June 2019 Many automakers import vehicles from Mexico and would be hit particularly hard if the U.S. imposes tariffs. Washington Post, "Dow jumps over 500 points amid hopes of Fed rate cut," 4 June 2019 By pledging to intervene in markets to support American manufacturing and promote job creation, Ms. Warren laid out a goal that President Trump has also pursued, albeit by different means, like imposing tariffs on imports from China and Mexico. New York Times, "Elizabeth Warren Proposes ‘Aggressive Intervention’ to Create Jobs," 4 June 2019 View Sample Sign Up Now The threat of tariffs has already underscored how closely the U.S. and Mexican economies are linked. John Walcott, Time, "How Trump's Mexico Tariffs Could Backfire and Increase Immigration," 4 June 2019 China quickly responded by imposing tariffs on $34 billion in U.S. products. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "US prepares to impose new tariffs on additional $200B worth of Chinese goods," 2 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Farmers remain optimistic Despite a tricky year ahead for many American farmers, Fox News could not find a single one at the Iowa State Fair who called Trump’s tariffs the wrong move. Emilie Ikeda, Fox News, "State fairs serve as unique opportunity for farmers to talk tariffs," 19 Aug. 2018 To some, the market’s calm also reflects the outlook that tariffs won’t substantially threaten corporate profits. Ben Eisen, WSJ, "U.S. Stocks Resilient in Trade Spat, Sparking Complacency Fears," 15 July 2018 China tariffs only went into effect on Friday and metals tariffs have been assessed for about one month. Bob Davis, WSJ, "U.S. Economic Strength Gives Trump Leeway in Trade Fight With China," 6 July 2018 Trump’s latest salvo in a brewing trade war would mean a sizable amount of Chinese goods shipped to the U.S. would be exposed to tariff threats and raises new questions about the impact on American consumers. Fortune, "President Trump Targets $200 Billion in Chinese Imports as Trade Spat Grows," 19 June 2018

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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Learn More about tariff

Dictionary Entries near tariff



Tarifa, Cape



tariff wall


Statistics for tariff

Last Updated

9 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tariff

The first known use of tariff was in 1592

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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



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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More from Merriam-Webster on tariff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tariff

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tariff

Spanish Central: Translation of tariff

Nglish: Translation of tariff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tariff for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tariff

Comments on tariff

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incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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