early 15c., "signify, show, bear or convey in meaning," from Latin importare "bring in, convey, bring in from abroad," from assimilated form of in- "into, in" (from PIE root *en "in") + portare "to carry," from PIE root *per- (2) "to lead, pass over." In English, the sense of "bring from another state or land," especially "bring in goods from abroad" first recorded 1540s. As "be important" from 1580s. Related: Imported; importing.
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