Definition of impose in English:



  • 1[with object] Force (an unwelcome decision or ruling) on someone:

    ‘the decision was theirs and was not imposed on them by others’
    • ‘So if a group fails to agree, rather than negotiate further, a minority of strong members should seize control and impose a decision?’
    • ‘Numerous forces have been imposed on physicians to make them change their practice behaviours.’
    • ‘It is also typical of this Government that it seeks to impose its politically correct views on the public.’
    • ‘The mayor said officials would not impose either decision on the families.’
    • ‘Russia's foreign minister declared that democracy cannot be imposed from the outside.’
    • ‘The famous couple said their split had to do with the demands imposed on them by their individual careers.’
    • ‘They cry out for ‘a ‘system’ of some kind, where order could be imposed on nature's unruly endlessness.’’
    • ‘Such outcomes reinforce the court's power to impose its decisions, and to punish those who disobey.’
    • ‘Themes range from war and economic exploitation to the demands imposed on women by commodity culture and advertising.’
    • ‘As a result, a handful of members of Congress were allowed to impose their extremist positions on the rest of the legislation body.’
    • ‘No attempt is made to impose a specific model or solution.’
    • ‘As the victim gets older, he begins to re-enact the abuse imposed on him on to other people.’
    • ‘Kass does not suggest that a society anything like that depicted by Huxley will be imposed on us by force.’
    • ‘The issue is whether we will aggressively seek to shape a new multipolar world order or whether a restructuring will be imposed on us by hostile forces.’
    • ‘Government officers, teachers, legal authorities and people working in the education system must not use their position to impose their beliefs and values on other people.’
    • ‘‘It will be up to the people to decide whether they allow Minister Dempsey to impose a decision or not,’ she added.’
    • ‘Information is the very opposite of chance - if you want to arrange letters into a sequence to spell a message, a particular order has to be imposed on the matter.’
    • ‘The present impasse has also aroused a deep dislike for the politics being manipulated and imposed on the society.’
    • ‘One example is forced marriage, which is imposed on some South Asian women by their parents, usually Muslim.’
    • ‘His core topic was whether discipline should be imposed on teens for their own good or whether decisions should be justified and explained.’
    foist, force, thrust, inflict, obtrude, press, urge
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Put (a restriction) in place:
      ‘sanctions imposed on South Africa’
      • ‘At the end of March, the bank imposed tough restrictions to slow the growth of bank lending which the International Monetary Fund had blamed for the country's widening trade gap.’
      • ‘The state government had imposed restrictions on the use of air-conditioners in government offices.’
      • ‘The height restrictions were imposed because the districts were in the flight path of the former Kai Tak airport, which closed in mid-1998.’
      • ‘Most striking is that it seems to have been written without the influence of an editor imposing strict page limits.’
      • ‘When restrictions were imposed, we were willing to cooperate and anxious to sacrifice.’
      • ‘Numerous restrictions are imposed on the local population.’
      • ‘First, we will not impose economic sanctions on Zimbabwe since this would only hurt ordinary Zimbabweans.’
      • ‘Financial institutions are expected to impose some restrictions on this for administrative purposes.’
      • ‘In the meantime, if the bill is delayed, local authorities, including Merton, could introduce individual bylaws to impose restrictions in their areas.’
      • ‘He also imposed a curfew from 10 pm until 4.30 am for the next three months.’
      • ‘She said the present system had come about mainly due to the restrictions imposed by international institutions.’
      • ‘The government imposes restrictions on freedom of religion.’
      • ‘Cargo operations were less affected because trade continued while travel restrictions were imposed by several countries.’
      • ‘The temporary restraining order was imposed on November 20.’
      • ‘The authorities impose countless conditions restricting strikes, any breach of which can incur heavy prison sentences.’
      • ‘Contrary to your suggestion, economic sanctions were not imposed after Iraq refused UN weapons inspectors access.’
      • ‘He said there were two main reasons for imposing the restrictions.’
      • ‘The Court of Appeal had only considered whether the restriction imposed by the judge was correct.’
      • ‘One hopes a lot of analysis goes on before any traffic restrictions are imposed.’
      • ‘The Israelis for their part, however, say that they're imposing these restrictions because of their security concerns.’
    2. 1.2 Require (a duty, charge, or penalty) to be undertaken or paid:
      ‘a fine may be imposed’
      • ‘He was given a conditional discharge for six months for obstructing the police officer and no separate penalty was imposed for the other charges.’
      • ‘I suggest the police, car producers and the public establish cooperation to raise awareness on the importance of using seat belts, and not just resort to imposing penalties.’
      • ‘A sentence should be similar to sentences imposed on similar offenders for similar offences committed in similar circumstances.’
      • ‘Multi-million dollar penalties have been imposed by the courts.’
      • ‘For instance, jurors in Connecticut, New York and other northeastern states are much more reluctant than jurors in other parts of the country to impose the death penalty.’
      • ‘Even those states that can impose financial penalties often have very low limits on fines.’
      • ‘‘The criteria for imposing penalties on minors is usually based on the principle of leniency,’ Chen said.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There are penalties for breaking the laws and they will be imposed on offenders.’
      • ‘A fine of £4,000 was imposed for each offence.’
      • ‘If operators fail to meet their ten per cent rural obligation they face penalties imposed by the government.’
      • ‘Last week, the government revealed its plans to double the fine for driving while using a mobile to £60 and impose three penalty points on the driver's licence.’
      • ‘In a report released here, the commission said such courts should be able to impose penalties such as fines and community service.’
      • ‘Under the original order, unanimity among the judges was not required, even to impose the death penalty.’
      • ‘All pharmacies consulted believed that in imposing service charges they were acting according to the regulations laid down by the government.’
      • ‘The law imposes penalties consisting of fines of up to $500,000 and 10 years in jail.’
      • ‘Fines and penalties are imposed for lateness, for not turning up for work, even in the case of illness, and for ‘negligent’ work.’
      • ‘The Waterford News & Star asked a number of people while they did their grocery shopping what they thought of the government imposing a charge on plastic bags.’
      • ‘The penalty imposed by law is not draconian, and serves more as a reminder to perform a commonsense action.’
      • ‘Unanimous rather than majority vote of seven military commissioners will be required to impose the death penalty.’
      levy, charge, exact, apply, enforce
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3impose oneself on Exert firm control over:
      ‘the director was unable to impose himself on the production’
      • ‘St. Martin's imposed themselves on the game at a very early stage and completely dominated the opening half.’
      • ‘But the Ballina veterans responded in fine style and they imposed themselves on the game from the start and they led throughout.’
      • ‘And while we want to attract people to learn more about our religious and cultural sites, the political reality imposes itself on all aspects of life - so we are also keen to explain what that means.’
      • ‘The early exchanges were tough and uncompromising in the midfield area as both sides sought to impose themselves on the game.’
      • ‘No matter what anyone says, Johnson, such a vital figure as captain, has done his job without ever imposing himself on a game.’
      • ‘The board chairmen and editors did not impose themselves on anyone.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But the home side's unsettling tactics clearly had the desired effect as United failed to impose themselves on proceedings from that point onwards.’
      • ‘These people invade your environment, impose themselves on your reality, they always seem there when you're out, by coincidence or perhaps by God's Great Design.’
      • ‘Then, thrillingly, Celtic simply imposed themselves on the remainder of the match.’
      • ‘We need to show more patience, and I think we could have imposed ourselves on the Welsh rather than try to force it as we did at times.’
      • ‘They had their chances, particularly in that first half, but as the game wore on they failed to impose themselves on a defiant Wanderers defence.’
      • ‘Politics creeps into religious matters and religion imposes itself on politics.’
      • ‘One rule, one and only one firm rule must impose itself on Europe after this tragedy.’
      • ‘Some photographers (notably Corbijn, whose grainy, monochrome trademarks dominate most of his work) impose themselves on the artists.’
      • ‘If Scotland strive to impose themselves on England as they did against France, I see no reason why the underdogs cannot produce another famous victory.’
      • ‘John Flannery was imposing himself on the game and he opened Dingle s account with a long-range point from over 50 metres as the Dingle forwards were having trouble with their radar.’
      • ‘They were clearly a heavier, fitter, and faster team than Carrick, but from the start they struggled to impose themselves on the game.’
      • ‘Even though they have yet to impose themselves on the group, it's hard to shake off the notion that the French have big performances in them.’
      force oneself, foist oneself, thrust oneself
      intrude, break in, obtrude, interlope, trespass, impinge, butt in, barge in
      control, gain control of, take charge of
      gatecrash, crash, horn in, muscle in, call the shots, call the tune, be in the driving seat, be in the saddle, run the show, pull the strings, rule the roost
      View synonyms
  • 2[no object] Take advantage of someone by demanding their attention or commitment:

    ‘she realized that she had imposed on Mark's kindness’
    • ‘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, abuse, exploit, take liberties with, misuse, ill-treat, treat unfairly, manipulate
    View synonyms
  • 3Printing
    [with object] Arrange (pages of type) so as to 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.