Meaning of “enforce” in the English Dictionary

"enforce" in British English

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enforceverb [ T ]

uk /ɪnˈfɔːs/ us /ɪnˈfɔːrs/

C1 to make people obey a law, or to make a particular situation happen or be accepted:

It isn't always easy for the police to enforce speed limits.
The new teacher had failed to enforce any sort of discipline.

More examples

  • The army were called out to enforce the curfew.
  • Aircraft will enforce the no-fly zone to protect UN forces on the ground.
  • The new law was generally admitted to be difficult to enforce.
  • It is the job of the inspectors to enforce compliance with the regulations.
  • The changes to the tax system proved impracticable as they were impossible to enforce.
adjective uk /ɪnˈfɔː.sə.bəl/ us /ɪnˈfɔːr.sə.bəl/
noun [ U ] uk /ɪnˈfɔːs.mənt/ us /ɪnˈfɔːrs.mənt/


  • Law enforcement agents intercepted a shipment of drugs from Latin America.
  • The court has no enforcement powers.

law enforcement

(Definition of “enforce” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"enforce" in American English

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enforceverb [ T ]

us /ɪnˈfɔrs, -ˈfoʊrs/

to cause a law or rule to be obeyed:

We need to enforce the traffic laws.
noun [ U ] us /ɪnˈfɔrs·mənt, -ˈfoʊr-/

law enforcement

(Definition of “enforce” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

" enforce" in Business English

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enforceverb [ T ]

uk /ɪnˈfɔːs/ us /-ˈfɔːrs/

LAW to make sure that people obey something such as a law or rule:

Regulations do not mean anything unless they are enforced.
The bar had a lawsuit filed against it for not enforcing the smoking ban.

to force somebody to do something, or to make sure that something happens:

Ministers are preparing to enforce a minimum price for beer.
Instead of making enforced redundancies, the company will offer employees other alternatives, such as early retirement.

(Definition of “ enforce” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)