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impose definition


This page has 11 definitions of impose in English, French, and Italian. Impose is a verb. Examples of how to use impose in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

See also: imposé

English impose definition


Borrowed from Middle French imposer (to lay on, impose), taking the place of Latin imponere (to lay on, impose), from in (on, upon) +‎ ponere (to put, place).



impose (third-person singular simple present imposes, present participle imposing, simple past and past participle imposed)

  1. (transitive) To establish or apply by authority.
    Congress imposed new tariffs.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book VII”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC:
      Death is the penaltie impos'd.
    • 1975 March 17, Marian Christy, “Suzy Chaffee, A Liberated Beauty”, in Lebanon Daily News[1], page 37:
      Suzy says "It's foolish for society to impose the restriction of one man to the married woman."
    • 2012 October 31, David M. Halbfinger, New York Times, retrieved 31 October 2012:
      Localities across New Jersey imposed curfews to prevent looting. In Monmouth, Ocean and other counties, people waited for hours for gasoline at the few stations that had electricity. Supermarket shelves were stripped bare.
  2. (intransitive) To be an inconvenience. (on or upon)
    I don't wish to impose upon you.
  3. To enforce: compel to behave in a certain way.
    Social relations impose courtesy.
    • 2011 December 10, Arindam Rej, “Norwich 4 - 2 Newcastle”, in BBC Sport[2]:
      Norwich soon began imposing themselves on that patched-up defence with Holt having their best early chance, only to see it blocked by Simpson.
    • 2022 January 12, Dr. Joseph Brennan, “Castles: ruined and redeemed by rail”, in RAIL, number 948, page 57:
      In the same year as the Furness objection, sadder tidings befell St Pancras Priory at Lewes, in East Sussex. Despite it having the distinction of being the earliest Cluniac monastery in Great Britain, petitions to prevent the Brighton Lewes & Hastings Railway from imposing on its site with its Lewes line failed. The line was approved and, as if as an act of deliberate desecration and assertion of the railways' power, passed over the site of the high altar.
  4. To practice a trick or deception (on or upon).
  5. To lay on, as the hands, in the religious rites of confirmation and ordination.
  6. To arrange in proper order on a table of stone or metal and lock up in a chase for printing; said of columns or pages of type, forms, etc.
  7. To place an encumbrance or burden on.
    • 1948, Harry Truman, Address at Mechanics Hall in Boston:
      And if the people of other countries don't want communism, we don't want to see it imposed upon them against their will.
    • 1950 March, H. A. Vallance, “On Foot Across the Forth Bridge”, in Railway Magazine, page 149:
      Detailed records are kept of the strains imposed on the bridge by the violent gales that frequently sweep the firth, and a self-recording wind gauge is fixed on the top of the tower.

Derived terms

Related terms


Further reading


French impose definition




  1. inflection of imposer:
    1. first/third-person singular present indicative/subjunctive
    2. second-person singular imperative

Italian impose definition



  1. third-person singular past historic of imporre