Definition of impose in English:


Syllabification: im·pose
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
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    • 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.
    More 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'.

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