See also: imposé

English edit

Etymology edit

PIE word
PIE word

The verb is derived from Late Middle English imposen (to place, set; to impose (a duty, etc.)),[1] borrowed from Middle French imposer, and Old French emposer, enposer (to impose (a duty, tax, etc.)) (modern French imposer), from im-, em- (variants of en- (prefix meaning ‘in, into’)) + poser (to place, put), modelled after:[2]

The noun is derived from the verb.[4]

Pronunciation edit

Verb edit

impose (third-person singular simple present imposes, present participle imposing, simple past and past participle imposed)

  1. (transitive)
    1. (archaic) To physically lay or place (something) on another thing; to deposit, to put, to set.
      1. (Christianity) To lay or place (one's hands) on someone as a blessing, during rites of confirmation, ordination, etc.
        • 1582, The Nevv Testament of Iesus Christ: [] (Douay–Rheims Bible), Rheims: Iohn Fogny, →OCLC, Marke 10:14 and 16, page 113:
          [Jesus] ſaid to them, Suffer the litle children to come vnto me, and prohibit them not, for the kingdom of God is for ſuch. [] And embracing them, and impoſing hands vpon them, he bleſſed them.
        • 1597, Richard Hooker, “Of Confirmation after Baptisme”, in J[ohn] S[penser], editor, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, [], 2nd edition, London: [] Will[iam] Stansby [for Matthew Lownes], published 1611, →OCLC, book V, section 66, page 351:
          [W]hen Iſraell bleſſed Ephraim and Manaſſes Ioſephs ſonnes, hee impoſed vpon them his hands and prayed, []
        • 1642, Jer[emy] Taylor, “§ 3. With a Power of Joyning Others and Appointing Successors in the Apostolate.”, in Of the Sacred Order, and Offices of Episcopacy, by Divine Institution, Apostolicall Tradition, & Catholike Practice. [], Oxford, Oxfordshire: [] Leonard Lichfield, printer to the University, →OCLC, page 13:
          [T]hat the Apoſtolate might be ſucceſſive and perpetuall, Chriſt gave them a povver of ordination, that by impoſing hands on others they might impart that povver vvhich they receiued from Chriſt.
      2. (printing) To lay (columns or pages of type, or printing plates) arranged in a proper order on the bed of a press or an imposing stone and secure them in a chase in preparation for printing.
        • 1877, Edward H[enry] Knight, “Imposing”, in Knight’s American Mechanical Dictionary. [], volume II (GAS–REA), New York, N.Y.: Hurd and Houghton [], →OCLC, page 1172, column 1:
          They [pages] are imposed as follows, the illustration showing how the pages appear in the form. [] 18, 24, 32, and 48mo may be imposed in a similar manner, or may be so imposed as to be cut before folding.
    2. (figurative)
      1. To apply, enforce, or establish (something, often regarded as burdensome as a restriction or tax: see sense 1.2.2) with authority.
        Congress imposed new tariffs.
        Sanctions were imposed on the country that had made an unprovoked attack on its neighbour.
        • 1596, Edmund Spenser, “Book V, Canto VIII”, in The Faerie Queene. [], part II (books IV–VI), London: [] [Richard Field] for William Ponsonby, →OCLC, stanza 49, page 295:
          In crueltie and outrage ſhe did pas, / To proue her ſurname true, that ſhe impoſed has.
        • 1605, M. N. [pseudonym; William Camden], “The Inhabitants of Britaine”, in Remaines of a Greater Worke, Concerning Britaine, [], London: [] G[eorge] E[ld] for Simon Waterson, →OCLC, page 8:
          Great alſo is the glorie of thoſe Britans, [] For they not only ſeated themſelves, there maugre the Romans, (then indeede lovv, and neare ſetting,) and the French: but alſo impoſed their name to the countrey, held an defended the ſame againſt the French, vntill in our grandfathers memorie, it vvas vnited to France by the ſacred bonds of matrimonie.
        • 1664, Edmond [i.e., Edmund] Waller, “To the King on His Navy”, in Poems, &c. Written upon Several Occasions, and to Several Persons. [], London: [] Henry Herringman, [], →OCLC, pages 1–2:
          Thou on the deep impoſeſt Nobler lavvs, / And by that Juſtice haſt remov'd the cauſe / Of thoſe rude tempeſts vvhich for rapine ſent, / Too oft, alas, involv'd the innocent.
        • 2012 October 31, David M. Halbfinger, “New Jersey reels from storm’s thrashing”, in The New York Times[1], New York, N.Y.: The New York Times Company, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 2023-04-04:
          New Jersey was reeling on Wednesday from the impact of Hurricane Sandy, [] Localities across New Jersey imposed curfews to prevent looting.
      2. To place or put (something chiefly immaterial, especially something regarded as burdensome as a duty, an encumbrance, a penalty, etc.) on another thing or on someone; to inflict, to repose; also, to place or put (on someone a chiefly immaterial thing, especially something regarded as burdensome).
        Social relations impose courtesy.
        • 1568, Anthony of Gueuara [i.e., Antonio de Guevara], “What Maners and Gestures Beecome the Courtier when Hee Speaketh to the Prince”, in Thomas North, transl., The Dial of Princes. [], revised edition, London: [] Richarde Tottill, and Thomas Marshe, →OCLC, 4th booke, folio 121, recto:
          [T]he courtier that proceeds in his matters, rather with oppinion and obſtinacy, then diſcretion and iudgement; ſhall neuer bee in fauor with the Prince, nor yet beeloued in the court. For it is as neceſſary for the courtier, that will ſeeke the fauor of the prince and loue of the court, to impoſe his tongue to ſylence: as it is to dyſpoſe his body to all maner of ſeruyce.
        • c. 1591–1592 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Third Part of Henry the Sixt, []”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act IV, scene iv], page 167, column 1:
          VVhat Fates impoſe, that men muſt needs abide; / It boots not to reſiſt both vvinde and tide.
        • c. 1595–1596 (date written), W. Shakespere [i.e., William Shakespeare], A Pleasant Conceited Comedie Called, Loues Labors Lost. [] (First Quarto), London: [] W[illiam] W[hite] for Cut[h]bert Burby, published 1598, →OCLC; republished as Shakspere’s Loves Labours Lost (Shakspere-Quarto Facsimiles; no. 5), London: W[illiam] Griggs, [], [1880], →OCLC, [Act V, scene i], signature K, recto, lines 848–850:
          Behold the vvindovv of my hart, mine eye: / VVhat humble ſuite attendes thy anſvvere there, / Impoſe ſome ſeruice on me for thy Loue.
        • 1598–1599 (first performance), William Shakespeare, Much Adoe about Nothing. [], quarto edition, London: [] V[alentine] S[immes] for Andrew Wise, and William Aspley, published 1600, →OCLC, [Act I, scene ii], signature [H4], verso:
          Yet I muſt ſpeake, chooſe your reuenge your ſelfe, / Impoſe me to vvhat penance your inuention / Can lay vpon my ſinne, yet ſinnd I not, / But in miſtaking.
        • 1613, Thomas Heywood, The Silver Age, [], London: [] Nicholas Okes, and are to be sold by Beniamin Lightfoote [], →OCLC, Act III, signature F3, verso:
          So for your ſake I vvill impoſe him dangers, / Such and ſo great, that vvithout Ioues ovvne hand, / He ſhall not haue the povver to ſcatter them.
        • 1624 March 23 (Gregorian calendar), Robert Saunderson [i.e., Robert Sanderson], “[Ad Clerum.] The Third Sermon. At a Visitation at Boston Lincoln[shire] 13. March. 1624.”, in Twelve Sermons, [], [new] edition, London: [] Aug[ustine] Math[ews], for Robert Dawlman, and are to be sold by Robert Allet, [], published 1632, →OCLC, §. 14, page 94:
          [W]here the Spirit of God hath manifested it ſelfe to any man by the diſtribution of gifts, it is but reaſon, that man ſhould manifest the Spirit that is in him, by exerciſing thoſe gifts in ſome lavvfull Calling. And ſo this manifestation of the Spirit in my Text, impoſeth vpon every man the Neceſſity of a Calling.
        • 1667, John Milton, “Book VII”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC, lines 544–547:
          [I]n the day thou eat'ſt [the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil], thou di'ſt; / Death is the penaltie impos'd, beware, / And govern well thy appetite, leaſt ſin / Surpriſe thee, and her black attendant Death.
        • 1688, John Bunyan, Good News for the Vilest of Men, or, A Help for Despairing Souls. [], London: [] George Larkin, [], →OCLC, page 59:
          I [Paul the Apostle] vvas going to Damaſcus vvith Letters from the High Prieſt to make Havock of God's People there, as I had made Havock of them in other places. Theſe bloody Letters vvas not impoſed upon me. I vvent to the High Prieſt and deſired them of him, Acts 9. 1, 2. And yet he [God] ſaved me!
        • c. 1699 – 1703, Alexander Pope, “The First Book of Statius His Thebais”, in The Works of Mr. Alexander Pope, volume I, London: [] W[illiam] Bowyer, for Bernard Lintot, [], published 1717, →OCLC, page 324:
          On impious realms, and barb'rous Kings, impoſe / Thy plagues, and curſe 'em vvith ſuch ſons as thoſe.
        • 1741, I[saac] Watts, “Of Improving the Memory”, in The Improvement of the Mind: Or, A Supplement to the Art of Logick: [], London: [] James Brackstone, [], →OCLC, paragraph, page 259:
          Teachers ſhould vviſely judge of the Povver and Conſtitution of Youth, and impoſe no more on them than they are able to bear vvith Chearfulneſs and Improvement.
        • 1838, Elizabeth B. Barrett [i.e., Elizabeth Barrett Browning], “The Island”, in The Seraphim, and Other Poems, London: Saunders and Otley, [], →OCLC, page 197:
          We must endure—but not because / The World imposeth woe. / Prayers hold a better power than dreams / And leave her far and low: / We cannot meet her cruel eyes, / When ours are lifted to the skies— []
        • 1849, Thomas Babington Macaulay, chapter VII, in The History of England from the Accession of James II, volume II, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, →OCLC, page 212:
          He forbade his subjects, on pain of his highest displeasure, to molest any religious assembly. He also abrogated all those acts which imposed any religious test as a qualification for any civil or military office.
        • 1873 January 23, Robert Browning, “Part IV”, in Red Cotton Night-Cap Country: Or Turf and Towers, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., [], →OCLC, page 222:
          Master should measure strength with master, then, / Before the servant be imposed a task.
        • 1948 October 27 (date delivered), Harry S. Truman, “Address at Mechanics Hall in Boston”, in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman: Containing the Public Messages, Speeches, and Statements of the President: January 1 to December 31, 1948, Washington, D.C.: Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration, General Services Administration; United States Government Printing Office, published 1964, →OCLC, page 884, column 1:
          [W]e don't want any Communist government in the United States of America. And if the people of other countries don't want communism, we don't want to see it imposed upon them against their will.
        • 1950 March, H. A. Vallance, “On Foot Across the Forth Bridge”, in The Railway Magazine, London: Tothill Press, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 149:
          Detailed records are kept of the strains imposed on the bridge by the violent gales that frequently sweep the firth, and a self-recording wind gauge is fixed on the top of the tower.
        • 1975 February 11, Marian Christy, quoting Suzy Chaffee, “Suzy Chaffee‘s choice on nude photos”, in Boston Evening Globe (Living section), final edition, volume 207, number 42, Boston, Mass.: The Globe Newspaper Co., →ISSN, →OCLC, page 25, column 5:
          It's foolish for society to impose the restriction of one man to the married woman. I'm not advocating sexual promiscuity but I think it's possible for a woman to have many kinds of relationships with many men and that shouldn't affect the status of the marriage. The husband, in turn, should have the same freedoms.
        • 2011 December 10, Arindam Rej, “Norwich 4 – 2 Newcastle”, in BBC Sport[2], archived from the original on 2023-03-12:
          Norwich soon began imposing themselves on that patched-up defence with [Grant] Holt having their best early chance, only to see it blocked by [Danny] Simpson.
      3. To force or put (a thing) on someone or something by deceit or stealth; to foist, to obtrude.
      4. (UK, school or university slang) To subject (a student) to imposition (a task inflicted as punishment).
      5. (archaic or obsolete) To appoint (someone) to be in authority or command over other people.
      6. (obsolete) To accuse someone of (a crime, or a sin or other wrongdoing); to charge, to impute.
        • 1599 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Life of Henry the Fift”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act IV, scene i], page 84, column 2:
          So, if a Sonne that is by his Father ſent about Merchandize, doe ſinfully miſcarry vpon the Sea; the imputation of his vvickedneſſe, by your rule, ſhould be impoſed vpon his Father that ſent him: []
        • 1605, Michaell Draiton [i.e., Michael Drayton], “The Legend of Matilda”, in Poems: [], London: [] [Valentine Simmes] for N[icholas] Ling, →OCLC, signature Gg3, verso:
          On him the King (in madneſſe ſo enrag'd) / Impoſde my death, himſelfe thereto that gag'd.
        • 1804, Thomas of Kempis [i.e., Thomas à Kempis], “For Passion Sunday. [Of Seven Most Remarkable Points to be Thought upon in Christ’s Passion.]”, in [anonymous], transl., Viator Christianus, or, The Christian Traveller. [], Dublin: [] T. Codd, [], →OCLC, paragraph 21, page 148:
          Thou falſely impoſeſt a capital crime upon him [Jesus], namely, that he made himſelf a King, whereas he never uſed any royal ornaments, according to the pomp of this world.
      7. (obsolete) To put (a conclusion or end) to something definitively.
  2. (intransitive) Chiefly followed by on or upon.
    1. To affect authoritatively or forcefully; to influence strongly.
      • 1625, Francis [Bacon], “Of Truth”, in The Essayes [], 3rd edition, London: [] Iohn Haviland for Hanna Barret, →OCLC, pages 1–2:
        But it is not onely the Difficultie, and Labour, vvhich Men take in finding out of Truth; nor againe, that vvhen it is found, it impoſeth vpon mens Thoughts; that doth bring Lies in fauour: But a naturall, though corrupt Loue, of the Lie it ſelfe.
      • 1669 April 9 (date written; Gregorian calendar), Samuel Pepys, Mynors Bright, transcriber, “March 30th, 1669”, in Henry B[enjamin] Wheatley, editor, The Diary of Samuel Pepys [], volume VIII, London: George Bell & Sons []; Cambridge: Deighton Bell & Co., published 1896, →OCLC, page 279:
        But I perceive they do think that I know too much, and shall impose upon whomever shall come next, and therefore must be removed, []
      • 1887, Robert Browning, “Fust and His Friends: An Epilogue”, in Parleyings with Certain People of Importance in Their Day: [], London: Smith, Elder, & Co., [], →OCLC, page 253:
        From no task Thou, Creator, imposedst! Creation / Revealed me no object, from insect to Man, / But bore Thy hand's impress: []
    2. To encroach or intrude, especially in a manner regarded as unfair or unwarranted; to presume, to take advantage of; also, to be a burden or inconvenience.
      I don’t wish to impose upon you.
      • 1667 January 19 (date written; Gregorian calendar), Samuel Pepys, Mynors Bright, transcriber, “January 9th, 1666–1667”, in Henry B[enjamin] Wheatley, editor, The Diary of Samuel Pepys [], volume VI, London: George Bell & Sons []; Cambridge: Deighton Bell & Co., published 1895, →OCLC, page 127:
        [T]hey do not rob the King of any right he ever had, for he never had a power to do hurt to his people, nor would exercise it: and therefore there is no danger, in the passing this Bill, of imposing on his prerogative; []
      • 1813 January 27, [Jane Austen], chapter XI, in Pride and Prejudice: [], volume II, London: [] [George Sidney] for T[homas] Egerton, [], →OCLC, page 129:
        Your character was unfolded in the recital which I received many months ago from Mr. Wickham. On this subject, what can you have to say? In what imaginary act of friendship can you here defend yourself? or under what misrepresentation can you here impose upon others?"
      • 2022 January 12, Joseph Brennan, “Castles: Ruined and Redeemed by Rail”, in Rail, number 948, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire: Bauer Media, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 57:
        In the same year as the Furness objection, sadder tidings befell St Pancras Priory at Lewes, in East Sussex. Despite it having the distinction of being the earliest Cluniac monastery in Great Britain, petitions to prevent the Brighton Lewes & Hastings Railway from imposing on its site with its Lewes line failed. The line was approved and, as if as an act of deliberate desecration and assertion of the railways' power, passed over the site of the high altar.
    3. To practise deceit or stealth; to cheat, to deceive, to trick.
    4. (obsolete) To subject to an impost, levy, tax, etc.
      • a. 1619 (date written), Walter Raleigh, “The Prerogative of Parliaments in England. Proved in a Dialogue between a Councellour of State, and a Justice of Peace. []”, in Remains of Sir Walter Raleigh; [], London: [] William Sheares [], published 1661, →OCLC, page 96:
        To impoſe upon all things brought into the Kin[g]dome is very ancient: vvhich impoſing vvhen it hath been continued a certain time, is them called Cuſtomes, becauſe the ſubjects are accuſtomed to pay it, and yet the great taxe upon vvine is ſtill called Impoſt, becauſe it vvas impoſed after the ordinary rate of payment, had laſted many years.
      • 1871 December, Robert Browning, Prince Hohenstiel-Schwangau, Saviour of Society, London: Smith, Elder and Co., →OCLC, page 124:
        [W]hoso rhymes a sonnet pays a tax, / Who paints a landscape dips brush at his cost, / Who scores a septett true for strings and wind / Mulcted must be—else how should I impose / Properly, attitudinize aright, / Did such conflicting claims as these divert / Hohenstiel-Schwangau from observing me?

Conjugation edit

Derived terms edit

Related terms edit

Translations edit

Noun edit

impose (plural imposes)

  1. (obsolete) An act of placing or putting on something chiefly immaterial, especially something regarded as burdensome as a duty, a task, etc.; an imposition.

References edit

  1. ^ impōsen, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ impose, v.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ impose, v.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2023.
  4. ^ † impose, n.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2023.

Further reading edit

Anagrams edit

French edit

Pronunciation edit

Verb edit


  1. inflection of imposer:
    1. first/third-person singular present indicative/subjunctive
    2. second-person singular imperative

Italian edit

Verb edit


  1. third-person singular past historic of imporre