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

Taken together, the measures pale in comparison to the oncoming hit from U.S. tariff increases still in the pipeline for October and December, the fruit of a rapid escalation in tensions between the two sides last month. Fortune, "The U.S. and China Are Easing Back on Trade War Tariffs as Talks Near," 12 Sep. 2019 Trump has threatened war with Russia, sanctions on Germany, and tariffs on Europe. Adam Weinstein, The New Republic, "Firing John Bolton Doesn’t Make You a Pacifist," 10 Sep. 2019 Trump delayed the tariff increase in order so that Apple, and other mobile-phone makers, wouldn’t have to raise their prices as consumers do their Christmas and holiday shopping later in the year. Rex Crum, The Mercury News, "IPhones, Apple TV+ believed to be in spotlight at Apple’s Tuesday event," 9 Sep. 2019 Further tariff increases are expected in October and December, encompassing almost everything China sells to the U.S., from golf shoes to iPhones. Charlie Campbell/beijing, Time, "As the U.S.-China Trade War Escalates, Pocketbooks Feel the Pain," 5 Sep. 2019 Trump’s tariff will rise to 30% in October, bringing the total to 37.5%, and possibly causing another price increase. Lydia Depillis, ProPublica, "Everything You Need to Play Baseball Is Made in China — and Getting Hit by Trump’s Tariffs," 3 Sep. 2019 The administration had largely avoided hitting consumer items in its earlier rounds of tariff increases. Christopher Rugaber, chicagotribune.com, "Consumers will soon see higher prices on many Chinese-made items as Trump’s latest round of tariffs take effect," 1 Sep. 2019 To withdraw, the U.K. must extract itself from pacts under the union that affect trade, migration, customs, tariffs, and more. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Queen Approves a Suspension of Parliament amid Brexit Controversy," 29 Aug. 2019 After the markets closed, the president announced more tariff increases. New York Times, "Business Groups Warn of Peril as Trump’s Trade War Spirals," 25 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Now Trump’s threat to tariff an additional $300 billion in Chinese imports is creating even more uncertainty. Samantha Masunaga, latimes.com, "In Trump’s trade war with China, L.A. ports are ground zero," 9 June 2019 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

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

15 Sep 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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to make a temporary encampment

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