Definition of embargo in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /əmˈbärɡō/

noun (plural embargoes)

1An official ban on trade or other commercial activity with a particular country: an embargo on grain sales the oil embargo of 1973
More example sentences
  • The Arab states, which in 1973 imposed an embargo on oil shipments to the US, have not indicated any intention of repeating that action so far.
  • The EU, under intense pressure from the US to maintain its arms trade embargo on China, told Beijing on Sunday not to expect an end to the ban before the middle of this year.
  • By the time the US trade embargo on Vietnam was lifted in 1994, Coke already had a head start in developing the Vietnamese market.
1.1An official prohibition on any activity.
ban, bar, prohibition, stoppage, interdict, proscription, veto, moratorium;
restriction, restraint, block, barrier, impediment, obstruction;
1.2 historical An order of a state forbidding foreign ships to enter, or any ships to leave, its ports.
1.3 archaic A stoppage, prohibition, or impediment.

verb (embargoes, embargoing, embargoed)

[with object]
1 (usually be embargoed) Impose an official ban on (trade or a country or commodity): the country has been virtually embargoed by most of the noncommunist world
More example sentences
  • The President of the United States on his sole decision deploys troops anywhere in the world, blockades and embargoes foreign countries, imposes trade tariffs, and engages in election cycle credit inflation.
  • I once embargoed your own country because your Queen banned the Guild, did you know that?
  • Publishers were also upset that the ruling prohibits collaborations between scientists in the US and embargoed countries.
1.1Officially ban the publication of: documents of national security importance are routinely embargoed
More example sentences
  • That is why it is embargoed for general publication until Friday.
  • The abstract of his study was embargoed for publication in the United States on Monday 30 October, and the study will be published in Rheumatology later this month.
  • At what point are we hurting ourselves and curtailing progress when we embargo publications in the name of security?
ban, bar, prohibit, stop, interdict, debar, proscribe, outlaw;
restrict, restrain, block, obstruct;
2 archaic Seize (a ship or goods) for state service.
Example sentences
  • The French coast was now blockaded, and to compound the chaos, in August the Convention banned the export of all goods of first necessity and embargoed all neutral ships.


Early 17th century: from Spanish, from embargar 'arrest', based on Latin in- 'in, within' + barra 'a bar'.

  • A Spanish word, from embargar ‘to arrest’. When it was first used in English, embargo referred to an order prohibiting ships from entering or leaving a country's ports, usually just before a war. These days it is an official ban on trade with a particular country.

Words that rhyme with embargo

Argo, argot, cargo, Chicago, escargot, farrago, largo, Margot, Otago, Santiago, virago

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: em·bar·go

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.