I used it in my previous question here which seems according to the answer and the comment which I received by Shawn Mooney, Imposing an idea on others is different to forcing an idea on others and cannot be replaced with it. I want to know the differences between these two.

  • user3, the best I can think of is that "forcing an idea" could be the result of a strategic persuasion technique, whereas "imposing an idea" implies a violent, also moral (and not only physical), act on other people. – user114 Mar 9 '13 at 11:37
  • So I choose imposing! Now it is the time to find a solution for it like "shut up"! :)) – Persian Cat Mar 9 '13 at 11:44
  • 1
    @user37324: I edited to remove your distracting but irrelevant use of the wrong preposition (you impose something on someone, not to them). And since we have no context to define which others, it seems more natural here to simply refer to others, rather than the others. – FumbleFingers Mar 9 '13 at 15:44

The two expressions are fairly close in meaning and can be used interchangeably with the following nuances:

"force an idea on the others" implies that the idea was opposed by the others but through some sort of aggression (verbal or otherwise), the others had to accept the idea.

"impose an idea on the others" gives more of an impression that the others didn't want to go along with idea for whatever reason but acquiesced though they might feel there was either some coersion or at the least, an obligation to accept the idea.

  • 1
    You did use the correct expression because the "hanger-on" gave unsolicited opinions to you, about you. (The nerve!) :-) – Kristina Lopez Mar 9 '13 at 13:21
  • 1
    Thanks for vote! It's "hanger-on", a title for someone who attaches one's self to another person or group. – Kristina Lopez Mar 9 '13 at 13:29
  • 1
    I think this is a spurious distinction. If there's any difference at all (and I'm far from convinced there is anyway), it's probably that imposing tends to be used more in contexts where the imposed idea does actually lead to imposed action. If an "idea" is "forced" on you, that might just mean you were obliged to consciously reflect on something you didn't want to think about at all, whereas if it's "imposed" on you, there's more the implication that you were obliged to agree with it, and act accordingly. – FumbleFingers Mar 9 '13 at 15:39
  • 2
    "Spurious" is a bit strong, @FumbleFingers, since I opened my answer with the acknowledgement that the two expressions are very close in meaning. For the new speakers, synonyms of "spurious" include: false - sham - counterfeit - bogus - mock - phony. All a bit strong for a slight difference of opinion. :-) – Kristina Lopez Mar 9 '13 at 16:29
  • 1
    @Kristina: Sorry if you think the word "spurious" sounds excessively condemnatory. I don't really think there's any difference in meaning as such, so I disagree with the idea that either word actual carries a "nuance" in itself. I think there is a slight tendency to use "impose" in contexts where the behaviour of others is altered by whatever is imposed, but I don't see that justifies implying to learners that they should learn/understand/remember the incredibly subtle distinction you make here (which I don't even think is a tendency, to be honest). – FumbleFingers Mar 9 '13 at 16:46

To my British ears "impose" is more appropriate for an idea, unless you couple it with some metaphor that implies the use of (physical) force:

"In that school they forced out-dated dogma down our throats"

You can't physically force an idea into someone's head.

  • +1 Thanks! I don't want to use it as a physical statement. – Persian Cat Mar 9 '13 at 13:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.