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[em-bahr-goh] /ɛmˈbɑr goʊ/
noun, plural embargoes.
an order of a government prohibiting the movement of merchant ships into or out of its ports.
an injunction from a government commerce agency to refuse freight for shipment, as in case of congestion or insufficient facilities.
any restriction imposed upon commerce by edict.
a restraint or hindrance; prohibition.
verb (used with object), embargoed, embargoing.
to impose an embargo on.
Origin of embargo
1595-1605; < Spanish, derivative of embargar to hinder, embarrass < Vulgar Latin *imbarricāre, equivalent to im- im-1 + -barricāre (*barr(a) bar1 + -icāre causative suffix)
Related forms
preembargo, adjective
Can be confused
boycott, embargo.
4. ban, restriction, interdiction, postscription. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for embargo
  • It was believed than an embargo on certain ranges of commodities could help effectively to maintain this superiority.
  • The lifting of the arms embargo, they insist, would be “symbolic” in nature.
  • The overhyped stories that appeared before and just after the embargo lifted were obviously a problem.
  • In 1995, Greece lifted a 20-month trade embargo and the two countries agreed to normalize relations.
  • The chamber Thursday also voted 250-169 to keep the economic embargo in place.
  • If there is any wisdom left among us the first step toward hostility will always be an embargo.
  • Potential penalties for violating the embargo were not indicated.
  • The oil embargo deprived many.
  • Roosevelt later extended the embargo to all scrap metal.
  • Lifting the embargo would take consensus among the 27 members of the club.
British Dictionary definitions for embargo


noun (pl) -goes
a government order prohibiting the departure or arrival of merchant ships in its ports
any legal stoppage of commerce: an embargo on arms shipments
a restraint, hindrance, or prohibition
verb (transitive) -goes, -going, -goed
to lay an embargo upon
to seize for use by the state
Word Origin
C16: from Spanish, from embargar, from Latin im- + barrabar1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for embargo

1590s, from Spanish embargo "seizure, embargo," noun of action from embargar "restrain impede," from Vulgar Latin *imbarricare, from in- "into, upon" (see in- (2)) + *barra (see bar (n.1)). As a verb, from 1640s. Related: Embargoed.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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embargo in Culture

embargo definition

A governmental restriction on trade for political purposes. The objective is to put pressure on other governments by prohibiting exports to or imports from those countries.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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