[ em-bahr-goh ]
/ ɛmˈbɑr goʊ /

noun, plural em·bar·goes.

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), em·bar·goed, em·bar·go·ing.

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

pre·em·bar·go, adjective

Can be confused

boycott embargo
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for embargo

British Dictionary definitions for embargo


/ (ɛmˈbɑːɡəʊ) /

noun plural -goes

a government order prohibiting the departure or arrival of merchant ships in its ports
any legal stoppage of commercean embargo on arms shipments
a restraint, hindrance, or prohibition

verb -goes, -going or -goed (tr)

to lay an embargo upon
to seize for use by the state

Word Origin for 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

Culture 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.