What does impose mean? impose. Verb 1. (transitive) ; To establish or apply by authority. 2. (intransitive) ; to be an inconvenience For example, I don’t wish to impose upon you. 3. to enforce: compel to behave in a certain way For example, Social relations impose courtesy 4. To practice a trick or deception. 5. To lay on, as the hands, in the religious rites of confirmation and ordination. 6. 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.