Definition of impose in US English:



  • 1with 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’
    • ‘Kass does not suggest that a society anything like that depicted by Huxley will be imposed on us by force.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘It will be up to the people to decide whether they allow Minister Dempsey to impose a decision or not,’ she added.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One example is forced marriage, which is imposed on some South Asian women by their parents, usually Muslim.’
    • ‘Numerous forces have been imposed on physicians to make them change their practice behaviours.’
    • ‘The famous couple said their split had to do with the demands imposed on them by their individual careers.’
    • ‘As a result, a handful of members of Congress were allowed to impose their extremist positions on the rest of the legislation body.’
    • ‘Such outcomes reinforce the court's power to impose its decisions, and to punish those who disobey.’
    • ‘Russia's foreign minister declared that democracy cannot be imposed from the outside.’
    • ‘So if a group fails to agree, rather than negotiate further, a minority of strong members should seize control and impose a decision?’
    • ‘They cry out for ‘a ‘system’ of some kind, where order could be imposed on nature's unruly endlessness.’’
    • ‘The mayor said officials would not impose either decision on the families.’
    • ‘The present impasse has also aroused a deep dislike for the politics being manipulated and imposed on the society.’
    • ‘It is also typical of this Government that it seeks to impose its politically correct views on the public.’
    • ‘His core topic was whether discipline should be imposed on teens for their own good or whether decisions should be justified and explained.’
    • ‘Themes range from war and economic exploitation to the demands imposed on women by commodity culture and advertising.’
    foist, force, thrust, inflict, obtrude, press, urge
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    1. 1.1 Forcibly put (a restriction) in place.
      ‘sanctions imposed on South Africa’
      • ‘The Israelis for their part, however, say that they're imposing these restrictions because of their security concerns.’
      • ‘The government imposes restrictions on freedom of religion.’
      • ‘When restrictions were imposed, we were willing to cooperate and anxious to sacrifice.’
      • ‘The state government had imposed restrictions on the use of air-conditioners in government offices.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Cargo operations were less affected because trade continued while travel restrictions were imposed by several countries.’
      • ‘In the meantime, if the bill is delayed, local authorities, including Merton, could introduce individual bylaws to impose restrictions in their areas.’
      • ‘The Court of Appeal had only considered whether the restriction imposed by the judge was correct.’
      • ‘He said there were two main reasons for imposing the restrictions.’
      • ‘He also imposed a curfew from 10 pm until 4.30 am for the next three months.’
      • ‘Financial institutions are expected to impose some restrictions on this for administrative purposes.’
      • ‘The temporary restraining order was imposed on November 20.’
      • ‘Numerous restrictions are imposed on the local population.’
      • ‘Most striking is that it seems to have been written without the influence of an editor imposing strict page limits.’
      • ‘One hopes a lot of analysis goes on before any traffic restrictions are imposed.’
      • ‘She said the present system had come about mainly due to the restrictions imposed by international institutions.’
      • ‘Contrary to your suggestion, economic sanctions were not imposed after Iraq refused UN weapons inspectors access.’
      • ‘The height restrictions were imposed because the districts were in the flight path of the former Kai Tak airport, which closed in mid-1998.’
      • ‘The authorities impose countless conditions restricting strikes, any breach of which can incur heavy prison sentences.’
      • ‘First, we will not impose economic sanctions on Zimbabwe since this would only hurt ordinary Zimbabweans.’
    2. 1.2 Require (a duty, charge, or penalty) to be undertaken or paid.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Unanimous rather than majority vote of seven military commissioners will be required to impose the death penalty.’
      • ‘Even those states that can impose financial penalties often have very low limits on fines.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Multi-million dollar penalties have been imposed by the courts.’
      • ‘If operators fail to meet their ten per cent rural obligation they face penalties imposed by the government.’
      • ‘A sentence should be similar to sentences imposed on similar offenders for similar offences committed in similar circumstances.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was given a conditional discharge for six months for obstructing the police officer and no separate penalty was imposed for the other charges.’
      • ‘A fine of £4,000 was imposed for each offence.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Under the original order, unanimity among the judges was not required, even to impose the death penalty.’
      • ‘There are penalties for breaking the laws and they will be imposed on offenders.’
      • ‘‘The criteria for imposing penalties on minors is usually based on the principle of leniency,’ Chen said.’
      • ‘In a report released here, the commission said such courts should be able to impose penalties such as fines and community service.’
      • ‘The law imposes penalties consisting of fines of up to $500,000 and 10 years in jail.’
      • ‘All pharmacies consulted believed that in imposing service charges they were acting according to the regulations laid down by the government.’
      • ‘Fines and penalties are imposed for lateness, for not turning up for work, even in the case of illness, and for ‘negligent’ work.’
      • ‘The penalty imposed by law is not draconian, and serves more as a reminder to perform a commonsense action.’
      • ‘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, exact, apply, enforce
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    3. 1.3impose oneself Exert firm control over.
      ‘the director was unable to impose himself on the production’
      • ‘Politics creeps into religious matters and religion imposes itself on politics.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This is the Church imposing itself on the education system.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The board chairmen and editors did not impose themselves on anyone.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘No matter what anyone says, Johnson, such a vital figure as captain, has done his job without ever imposing himself on a game.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, she doesn't lose control of the music, nor does she impose herself on it in search of effects.’
      • ‘They were clearly a heavier, fitter, and faster team than Carrick, but from the start they struggled to impose themselves on the game.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘St. Martin's imposed themselves on the game at a very early stage and completely dominated the opening half.’
      • ‘Then, thrillingly, Celtic simply imposed themselves on the remainder of the match.’
      • ‘Some photographers (notably Corbijn, whose grainy, monochrome trademarks dominate most of his work) impose themselves on the artists.’
      • ‘The early exchanges were tough and uncompromising in the midfield area as both sides sought to impose themselves on the game.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But the Ballina veterans responded in fine style and they imposed themselves on the game from the start and they led throughout.’
      • ‘One rule, one and only one firm rule must impose itself on Europe after this tragedy.’
      • ‘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.’
      force oneself, foist oneself, thrust oneself
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  • 2no object Take advantage of someone by demanding their attention or commitment.

    ‘she realized that she had imposed on Miss Hatherby'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
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  • 3Printing
    with object 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’.