Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To establish or apply as compulsory; levy: impose a tax.
  • transitive v. To apply or make prevail by or as if by authority: impose a peace settlement. See Synonyms at dictate.
  • transitive v. To obtrude or force (oneself, for example) on another or others.
  • transitive v. Printing To arrange (type or plates) on an imposing stone.
  • transitive v. To offer or circulate fraudulently; pass off: imposed a fraud on consumers.
  • intransitive v. To take unfair advantage: You are always imposing on their generosity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To establish or apply by authority.
  • v. to be an inconvenience
  • v. to enforce: compel to behave in a certain way

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A command; injunction.
  • intransitive v. To practice tricks or deception.
  • transitive v. To lay on; to set or place; to put; to deposit.
  • transitive v. To lay as a charge, burden, tax, duty, obligation, command, penalty, etc.; to enjoin; to levy; to inflict.
  • transitive v. To lay on, as the hands, in the religious rites of confirmation and ordination.
  • transitive v. To arrange in proper order on a table of stone or metal and lock up in a chase for printing; -- said of columns or pages of type, forms, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To lay on, or set on; put, place, or deposit: as, to impose, the hands in ordination or confirmation.
  • To lay as a burden, or something to be borne or endured; levy, inflict, or enforce, as by authority, power, or influence: as, to impose taxes or penalties; to impose one's opinions upon others.
  • To obtrude fallaciously or deceitfully; palm off; pass off.
  • To fix upon; impute.
  • To subject by way of punishment.
  • In printing, to lay upon an imposing-stone or the bed of a press and secure in a chase, as pages of type or stereotype plates.
  • To lay or place a burden or restraint; act with constraining effect: with upon: as, to impose upon one's patience or hospitality.
  • To practise misleading trickery or imposture; act with a delusive effect: with upon: as, to impose upon one with false pretenses.
  • n. Command; injunction.

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

  • v. impose something unpleasant
  • v. impose and collect
  • v. compel to behave in a certain way

Etymologies

Middle English imposen, from Old French imposer, alteration (influenced by poser, to put, place) of Latin impōnere, to place upon : in-, on; + pōnere, to place.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French imposer ("to lay on, impose"), taking the place of Latin imponere ("to lay on, impose"), from in ("on, upon") + ponere ("to put place"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The government will again impose the extraordinary tax on profitable Greek companies in 2011 for earnings derived within the country.

    Greece Aims to Cut Deficit to 7%

  • Instead, the most severe consequence you would impose is that they lose their license?

    Think Progress » 128.

  • He wants to really reduce our dependence on oil entirely, invest in wind and solar and biomass, get away from our dependence on oil, and at the same time in the short term impose a windfall profits tax on the huge profits that oil companies get, and use some of that to help consumers here in the United States.

    CNN Transcript Jun 24, 2008

  • Well, we do go about as far as I think we can go in urging companies to make better disclosures and to issue more frequent statements, and in the final analysis the only penalty we can impose is to suspend or delist its shares.

    Myths and Mysteries of Bay Street

  • It looks as if the writer had meant by a short cut to give us both ideas; if so, his guilt is clear; and if we call impose a mere slip in idiom, the confusion is none the less apparent.

    Metaphor.

  • Certainly, both Italy and Spain need to carry out structural reforms, but these take a long time to show positive effects and in the short-term impose costs.

    The Independent - Frontpage RSS Feed

  • a horse, or take the carriage and drive for a week's journey, and, in short, impose upon these good people in every conceivable way.

    A girl's life in Virginia before the war,

  • Well, technically it would have been a more sensible question during the 2005 General Election campaign, but yes, the question still stands: Why didn’t Britain impose similar restrictions to those used by just about every other old Member State?

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Major Gaffe in Britain

  • As an uninsured I just hate to have to walk in blind and alone to a hospital to face whatever cost they choose to impose, which is likely higher than for insured folks.

    Obama sells out (Jack Bog's Blog)

  • MAX MOSLEY, PRESIDENT, FIA: The penalty that we've imposed is the harshest one we can impose, which is disqualification.

    CNN Transcript Sep 21, 2009

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