Definition of embargo in English:



  • 1An official ban on trade or other commercial activity with a particular country.

    ‘an embargo on grain sales’
    ‘an arms embargo’
    • ‘Good news: it looks as if the European Union will postpone lifting its embargo on arms exports to China, at least until next year.’
    • ‘And according to British officials, a UN embargo on oil exports is unlikely to be called for by the UN Security Council.’
    • ‘He lifted the trade embargo on Vietnam and pledged to work towards the creation of a trans-Pacific free-trade zone.’
    • ‘The limited economic sanctions that it had approved did not include an embargo on oil exports to Italy, upon which Mussolini's military machine depended.’
    • ‘On the initiative of the United States, a severe embargo on trade with China was accepted by the Western democracies.’
    • ‘Rich is notorious for trading with Iran during the hostage crisis, South Africa during apartheid, and Cuba and Libya during U.S. trade embargoes.’
    • ‘The White House announced that the U.S. would lift the embargo on commercial sales of non-lethal defense articles and expand contact between the U.S. and Indonesian militaries.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The statelet will now continue to endure international trade embargoes and isolation.’
    • ‘The sanctions would clamp an international embargo on Sudan's oil imports, and ban weapons sales.’
    • ‘By the time the US trade embargo on Vietnam was lifted in 1994, Coke already had a head start in developing the Vietnamese market.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, there's a big transatlantic row brewing over the EU proposing to lift its embargo on arms exports to China.’
    • ‘Among the possible options would be an embargo on the sale or trade of weapons to Sudan, or an embargo on oil transactions with the government.’
    • ‘It isn't surprising that the real force behind the campaign to lift the embargo on food sales is the agribusiness lobby.’
    • ‘The application of American sanctions, in particular the embargo on oil exports to Japan on 1 August 1941, justified this apprehension.’
    • ‘World War I brought an embargo on trade with Germany and an end to German domination of the American greeting card market.’
    • ‘In October 1973, Arab states imposed an embargo on oil shipments to the US in response to the Arab-Israeli War, causing shortages and a doubling of prices.’
    • ‘Since the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, U.S. Presidents and congressional leaders have unrelentingly promoted energy independence.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Last Thursday the US ended key trade and economic sanctions, including the oil embargo and flight ban.’
    ban, bar, veto, moratorium, prohibition, proscription, interdict, injunction, sanction, restriction, barrier
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    1. 1.1 An official ban on any activity.
      ‘there is a complete embargo on taking photographs in court’
      ban, bar, prohibition, stoppage, interdict, proscription, veto, moratorium
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  • 2historical An order of a state forbidding foreign ships to enter, or any ships to leave, its ports.

    ‘an embargo laid by our Emperor upon all vessels whatsoever’


[with object]
  • 1Impose an official ban on (trade or a country or commodity)

    ‘all of these countries have been embargoed by the US’
    • ‘I once embargoed your own country because your Queen banned the Guild, did you know that?’
    • ‘Countries that don't sign it (this'll have to be before we destroy the concept of nation states) will be universally shunned and trade embargoed.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, in 1973 China embargoed U.S. wheat shipments from the Pacific Northwest and enacted a zero-tolerance policy on TCK spores in American grain exports.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The UN Security Council called for Iraq to withdraw and subsequently embargoed most trade with Iraq.’
    • ‘The panel concluded that the USA could not embargo imports of tuna products from Mexico simply because Mexican regulations on methods of tuna catching were less strict than American regulations.’
    • ‘The metal last year lost 46 percent of its value, prompting Russia, the biggest producer in 2001, to embargo sales to the open market.’
    • ‘Thus, the Confederacy could have entered the second year of the war in a stronger position than it actually did, having embargoed exports of raw cotton.’
    • ‘This allows the US to maintain some sort of contact with these embargoed nations, until sanctions are lifted.’
    • ‘In Washington, Stimson and secretary of the treasury, Henry Morgenthau, advocated embargoing the shipment of strategic materials to Japan.’
    • ‘Using authority granted by a congressional joint resolution in May 1934, President Roosevelt embargoed all U.S. arms shipments to Paraguay and Bolivia in an effort to end their military conflict.’
    • ‘1976 - A triple veto in UN Security Council by Britain, France and the United States blocks a resolution that would have embargoed arms shipments to South Africa.’
    • ‘As the draft legislation currently stands, British gun runners would still be able to ship small arms to embargoed countries and countries in conflict simply by jumping on a plane and conducting their activities from a hotel room in Paris.’
    • ‘Publishers were also upset that the ruling prohibits collaborations between scientists in the US and embargoed countries.’
    boycott, ostracize, avoid, place an embargo on, put an embargo on, consider undesirable, steer clear of, ignore
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    1. 1.1 Officially ban the publication of.
      ‘documents of national security importance are routinely embargoed’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Part of the trouble was that there wasn't very much else to write about, as the nature of the content between the covers was embargoed until the eve of publication day - today.’
      • ‘The study is embargoed until its official release in October.’
      • ‘So, although exact prices are embargoed until next Monday week, they will be around €12,500.’
      • ‘That is why it is embargoed for general publication until Friday.’
      • ‘You gloss over the fact that the AP - no matter how they obtained the material - violated their agreement with S&S to embargo the story until the date of publication.’
      • ‘Mr MacShane said the early version was never intended to be definitive and an office ‘slip-up’ was to blame for why there was no clear instruction that it should be embargoed and checked against his actual speech.’
      • ‘It's still embargoed, but on the 15th of this month [August], President Megawati is going to present the budget plan.’
      • ‘At what point are we hurting ourselves and curtailing progress when we embargo publications in the name of security?’
      • ‘A publicist might calculate that embargoing his book would help build public anticipation - and that juicy tidbits, slowly revealed, might generate more media coverage and therefore higher sales.’
      • ‘However, the mayor's speech was embargoed - not to be broadcast to the public - until the mayor had delivered it at 4pm, Tugwana said.’
      • ‘It will be sent to major media news outlets (print and electronic) two days before its publication date, on a strictly embargoed basis, to encourage media interest in the anniversary.’
      ban, bar, prohibit, stop, interdict, debar, proscribe, outlaw, make illegal
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  • 2archaic Seize (a ship or goods) for state service.

    ‘they must embargo means of transport’
    • ‘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’.