Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A government order prohibiting the movement of merchant ships into or out of its ports.
  • n. A prohibition by a government on certain or all trade with a foreign nation.
  • n. A prohibition; a ban: an embargo on criticism.
  • transitive v. To impose an embargo on.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An order by the government prohibiting ships from leaving port.
  • n. A ban on trade with another country.
  • n. A temporary ban on making certain information public.
  • v. To impose an embargo on trading certain goods with another country.
  • v. To impose an embargo on a document.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An edict or order of the government prohibiting the departure of ships of commerce from some or all of the ports within its dominions; a prohibition to sail.
  • transitive v. To lay an embargo on and thus detain; to prohibit from leaving port; -- said of ships, also of commerce and goods.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To lay an embargo upon; restrain the movement or voluntary use of, as ships or property, especially as an act of sovereignty or of public policy; make a seizure or arrestment of. See embargo, n.
  • n. A stoppage or seizure of ships or merchandise by sovereign authority; specifically, a restraint or prohibition imposed by the authorities of a country on merchant vessels, or other ships, to prevent their leaving its ports, and sometimes amounting to an interdiction of commercial intercourse either with a particular country or with all countries.
  • n. Hence A restraint or hindrance imposed on anything: as, to lay an embargo on free speech.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. prevent commerce
  • n. a government order imposing a trade barrier
  • v. ban the publication of (documents), as for security or copyright reasons

Etymologies

Spanish, from embargar, to impede, from Vulgar Latin *imbarricāre, to barricade : Latin in-, in; see en-1 + Vulgar Latin *barricāre, to barricade (from *barrīca, barrel, barrier, from *barra, bar, barrier).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Spanish embargar ("to arrest"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • "Detailed evidence has emerged of Israel's extensive use of US-made weaponry during its war in Gaza last month, including white phosphorus artillery shells, 500lb bombs and Hellfire missiles. In a report released today, Amnesty International detailed the weapons used and called for an immediate arms embargo on Israel and all Palestinian armed groups. It called on the Obama administration to suspend military aid to Israel."
    - Rory McCarthy, Suspend military aid to Israel, Amnesty urges Obama after detailing US weapons used in Gaza, guardian.co.uk, 23 Feb 2009.

    February 23, 2009

  • Embargos are macabre. Sad Nell, listen O! not to no nets — I'll lend a Serb a camera so grab me!

    October 18, 2008

  • In bookselling, a rule that prohibits the sale or display of a book (e.g., the newest Harry Potter title) until a specific date determined by the publisher--even if a bookstore has already received its copies.

    October 23, 2007