tar·​iff | \ˈter-əf, 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

For others, the delay in applying new tariffs won’t be enough to surmount the existing pressures on the yuan. Mike Bird, WSJ, "Yuan Wins Temporary Reprieve on Tariff Time-Out," 4 Dec. 2018 China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "Trump says China might kill car tariffs, which would boost foreign automakers," 3 Dec. 2018 Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s new tariffs are straining international relations, from Canada to China and Turkey. Politifact, Teen Vogue, "Trump's Lies and Misleading Claims Have Grown in Volume Since the Start of the Presidency," 22 Aug. 2018 Earlier this year, Trump approved tariffs on foreign solar panels and washing machines. John Schmid, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Trump's global trade war expected to inflict economic causalities in Wisconsin and across nation," 10 July 2018 The Trump administration recently announced a number of new tariffs on goods such as steel, aluminum, and a 25 percent increase on electrical parts coming from China. Sam Tornow, Billboard, "Moog Responds to Pres. Trump's Tariffs with Statement Urging Customers to Call Representatives," 2 July 2018 Wartime documents show that Japan’s military supervised the brothels, and set the tariffs, service hours and hygiene standards. Mari Yamaguchi, The Seattle Times, "AP Explains: Dispute between Seoul, Tokyo over WWII brothels," 21 Nov. 2018 Of that amount, the tariff on $200 billion of goods is 10%—not much of a hit for importers given that the Chinese yuan has fallen about that much since the U.S.-China trade fight heated up this spring. Alex Leary, WSJ, "Trump Optimistic About China Trade Deal," 16 Nov. 2018 But the 25 percent tariff would have made that price impossible. Russell Brandom, The Verge, "How Trump’s tariffs will hurt US tech companies," 18 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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

8 Dec 2018

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

: 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 \

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 \

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

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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to enclose within walls

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