[ em-bahr-goh ]
See synonyms for: embargoembargoedembargoing on Thesaurus.com

noun,plural em·bar·goes.
  1. any restriction imposed upon commerce by edict, especially against a certain country as a penalty or to induce compliance with demands or legal obligations: The United Nations fact-finding mission recommended the imposition of an arms embargo and other targeted economic sanctions on the rogue state.The software may not be exported into any country with which the United States maintains a trade embargo prohibiting the shipment of goods.

  2. an order of a government prohibiting the movement of merchant ships into or out of its ports.

  1. an injunction from a government commerce agency to refuse freight for shipment, as in case of congestion or insufficient facilities.

  2. a restraint or hindrance; prohibition: A one-year embargo on her published dissertation allowed only the title, abstract, and citation information to be released to the public.

verb (used with object),em·bar·goed, em·bar·go·ing.
  1. to impose an embargo on.

Origin of embargo

First recorded in 1595–1605; from Spanish, derivative of embargar “to hinder, embarrass,” from unattested Vulgar Latin imbarricāre, equivalent to im- im-1 + unattested -barricāre (barr(a) bar1 + -icāre causative suffix)

Other words for embargo

Other words from embargo

  • pre·em·bar·go, adjective

Words that may be confused with embargo

Words Nearby embargo

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use embargo in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for embargo


/ (ɛmˈbɑːɡəʊ) /

nounplural -goes
  1. a government order prohibiting the departure or arrival of merchant ships in its ports

  2. any legal stoppage of commerce: an embargo on arms shipments

  1. a restraint, hindrance, or prohibition

verb-goes, -going or -goed (tr)
  1. to lay an embargo upon

  2. to seize for use by the state

Origin of embargo

C16: from Spanish, from embargar, from Latin im- + barra bar 1

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

Cultural definitions for embargo


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 New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.