IATE term of the week ’embargo’



In the light of the recent developments in the Ukraine crisis, this week we have chosen the term embargo.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines embargo as “an official ban on trade or other commercial activity with a particular country” or just as “an official ban on any activity”. The origin of the term dates back to the early 17th century: it comes from the Spanish verb embargar ‘arrest’ which is based on Latin in- ‘in, within’ + barra ‘a bar’.The historical definition of the term would be “an order of a state forbidding foreign ships to enter, or any ships to leave, its ports.”

Due to Moscow`s actions in eastern Ukraine, some ships will not indeed enter Russia`s ports as France has decided not to deliver the first of two Mistral navy assault ships to Russia. Russia is also going to be deprived of a number of other goods by the international community. Some of the sanctions decided upon in Australia include ceasing to sell uranium, export arms, oil and gas to Russia. The EU has also given Russia one week to change its course of actions in Ukraine or additional sanctions would be imposed.

Even though Russia still blatantly denies having troops in Ukraine or militarily supporting separatists there, evidences are to the contrary. Russia has violated the sovereignty of Ukraine and Putin`s claims of Russia being in possession of nuclear power are quite disturbing (“I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations. This is a reality, not just words.” V. Putin). Therefore, the EU believes that employing embargo is an effective way to prevent further escalation in the Ukraine crisis.

Of course, it is not an easy undertaking to agree on what extent to ban commercial activities when countries are mutually dependent, economically it is a no-win solution. However, as Winston Churchill has once said “to jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war”, so let`s hope that we are not on the threshold of yet another world-scale tragedy and that diplomacy will prevail.


You can also have a look at the other IATE domains of this term here:

International affairs, Trade restriction

Law, Land transport, Mechanical engineering, Transport

EU relations, Air transport, European Union

We invite you to suggest the equivalent terms in the missing EU languages, or alternatives to the existing term in your language if you consider the proposed term inaccurate. Provide your answer with a reliable reference and an accurate definition and/or context if possible.

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A terminologist for the language in question will revise your answer and decide whether to validate them. Given the implications of the process, a delay is to be expected.


Ukraine crisis: France halts warship delivery to Russia

Australia considers aid to Ukraine, opens Kiev embassy

EU set to tighten Russia sanctions ‘within a week’

Ukraine crisis: Putin’s nuclear threats are a struggle for pride and status

Vladimir Putin talks nuclear power as he tells the West to back off over Ukraine


By Julija Televičiūtė

Graduate from Vilnius University, English Philology (BA)

Translation trainee at Lithuanian Unit