Definition of impose in English:

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Pronunciation: /imˈpōz/


1 [with object] Force (something unwelcome or unfamiliar) to be accepted or put in place: the decision was theirs and was not imposed on them by others
More example sentences
  • Kass does not suggest that a society anything like that depicted by Huxley will be imposed on us by force.
  • Numerous forces have been imposed on physicians to make them change their practice behaviours.
  • They cry out for ‘a ‘system’ of some kind, where order could be imposed on nature's unruly endlessness.’
foist, force, inflict, press, urge
informal saddle someone with, land someone with
1.1Forcibly put (a restriction) in place: sanctions imposed on South Africa
More example sentences
  • She said the present system had come about mainly due to the restrictions imposed by international institutions.
  • In the meantime, if the bill is delayed, local authorities, including Merton, could introduce individual bylaws to impose restrictions in their areas.
  • Financial institutions are expected to impose some restrictions on this for administrative purposes.
1.2Require (a duty, charge, or penalty) to be undertaken or paid.
Example sentences
  • Under the original order, unanimity among the judges was not required, even to impose the death penalty.
  • He was given a conditional discharge for six months for obstructing the police officer and no separate penalty was imposed for the other charges.
  • However, consumer groups argue that banks should not impose such exorbitant penalty charges as they do not reflect the costs incurred when customers exceed borrowing limits.
levy, charge, apply, enforce;
set, establish, institute, introduce, bring into effect
1.3 (impose oneself) Exert firm control over something: the director was unable to impose himself on the production
More example sentences
  • One rule, one and only one firm rule must impose itself on Europe after this tragedy.
  • Nevertheless, she doesn't lose control of the music, nor does she impose herself on it in search of effects.
  • This is the Church imposing itself on the education system.
2 [no object] Take advantage of someone by demanding their attention or commitment: she realized that she had imposed on Miss Hatherby’s kindness
More example sentences
  • After all, you had already imposed yourself on them (as it seldom was a her) and to start a conversation where none was offered seemed an unwelcome intrusion.
  • How do you deal with people who impose themselves on you?
take advantage of, exploit, take liberties with, treat unfairly;
bother, trouble, disturb, inconvenience, put out, put to trouble, be a burden on
informal walk all over
3 [with object] Printing Arrange (pages of type) so that they will be in the correct order after printing and folding.


Late 15th century (in the sense 'impute'): from French imposer, from Latin imponere 'inflict, deceive' (from in- 'in, upon' + ponere 'put'), but influenced by impositus 'inflicted' and Old French poser 'to place'.

  • compost from Late Middle English:

    Garden compost and fruit compôte do not seem to have much in common, but they both derive from French compôte ‘stewed fruit’. This comes from Old French composte, from Latin compositum ‘something put together’—source of compose (Late Middle English) and decompose (mid 18th century), composition (Late Middle English), and component (mid 17th century). Compost has been used in the gardening sense since the late 16th century. The Latin word was formed from com- ‘with’ and the irregular verb ponere ‘put, place’. From this we also get impose (Late Middle English) ‘place (up)on’; oppose (Late Middle English) ‘place against’; positive and posture (late 16th century); preposition (Late Middle English) something put in front, and suppose (Middle English) literally something placed from below.

Words that rhyme with impose

appose, arose, Bose, brose, chose, close, compose, diagnose, self-diagnose, doze, enclose, expose, foreclose, froze, hose, interpose, juxtapose, Montrose, noes, nose, oppose, plainclothes, pose, propose, prose, rose, suppose, those, transpose, underexpose, uprose

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: im·pose

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