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In various Euro­pean lan­guages, most es­pe­cially in the Ro­mance ones, their own re­spec­tive cog­nates for our Latin-de­rived word im­port can be used as a verb in much the way as the verb con­cern is used in cur­rent English:

  • Não me importa. (Portuguese)
  • No me importa. (Spanish)
  • No m’importa. (Catalan)
  • Cela ne m’importe pas. (French)

Those all trans­late lit­er­ally “It is not im­por­tant to me”, the kind of thing you would say to mean “It does not con­cern me” or “It does not mat­ter to me”.

Has English ever had a sim­i­lar us­age for the same sense of the same verb; that is, has it ever been com­mon in English to say this?

  • It does not im­port me.

Please Note

I am ask­ing specif­i­cally about the use of im­port as a tran­si­tive verb and used a person of interest or personal pronoun used in the same manner and sense as we now use concern, as in:

  • It im­ports me.

The noun form seen in “It is of no im­port to me” is of no im­port to me.

  • 9
    I've seen it used along with adjectives, e.g. "it is of great import", or "of no import". Old fashioned, but then I read a lot of classic literature in my day, especially as a kid – Stephen R Feb 26 at 19:43
  • Please edit this to add the research you've already done to try to answer this question yourself. – curiousdannii Feb 27 at 2:07
  • Might one ask the point of this exercise? – Lambie Mar 1 at 17:36
64

Yes. The Oxford English Dictionary has this definition (and some other similar ones) for ɪᴍᴘᴏʀᴛ v. 6a in their section II of that verb:

II. To be of importance or consequence.

  1. transitive. To be of importance or consequence to; to matter to; to concern, have to do with. Only in third person.

    a. With anticipatory it as subject.

    • †⒜ With subordinate clause as complement. Obsolete.

    • ⒝ With to-infinitive clause as complement. Frequently with the sense ‘behove, be incumbent on, be the duty of’. Now rare.


    b. With the topic as subject.

    • ⒜ With personal object. Now rare.

    • †⒝ With non-personal object. Obsolete.

For example, in Tyrannick Love (1670):

It much imports me that this truth I know.

And in the negative in Elizabeth Evanshaw: The Sequel of "Truth": a Novel (1827):

“And does it not import me to know?"

Note that this verb sense of the word is obsolete, so you shouldn’t use it.

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  • 8
    The cited usages in the answer sound completely archaic to me (native US American speaker), but I have heard RobK's usage (always using 'of' and in the negative) before, although it does sound exceedingly formal, to the point of being laughable. – JonathanZ supports MonicaC Feb 25 at 21:18
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    @RobK As pointed out on other comments, the part of speech is different in "no import". – user3067860 Feb 25 at 21:27
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    @JonathanZsupportsMonicaC I agree with you about "always using 'of'," but I'm not so sure about "in the negative". For example, "of great import" sounds OK to me. – Andreas Blass Feb 26 at 2:48
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    Webster's 1913 adds two more example quotations, one from the Bard: "I have a motion much imports your good," – Shakespeare, Measure for Measure; "If I endure it, what imports it you?" – John Dryden, The Spanish Friar – FeRD Feb 26 at 5:38
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    The obsolete sense of the word is the transitive verb. It is no longer grammatical to say "The winner of the game does not import me." Nobody said that the expression "The winner or the game is of no import to me" was archaic. It is still fine, and Laurel didn't say otherwise. – Mark Foskey Feb 26 at 15:47
-5

You seem to be confused between

(i) "import" (noun), which is almost obsolete, e.g. "The question is trivial - it is of no import" and which has been replaced by "importance",

and

(ii) "important", which is an adjective, e.g. "On the contrary, it is an important question."

There is also a verb related to this sense "to import" which is rare.

OED:

import, n.

  1. The quality or condition of having great or weighty significance; consequence, importance.

1872 W. Black Strange Adventures Phaeton II. xii. 232 Something of mighty import had just occurred.

importance, n.

I. The fact or quality of being important or urgent; that which is important.

  1. a. The fact or quality of being important; (with modifying word or phrase) the degree or extent to which something is important; (great) significance or consequence.

2000 Financial Times 11 Jan. 2/8 In a lecture tonight.., Mr Brown will stress the importance of education in economic development.

import, v.

To convey, signify, or imply; to bring in or about.

  1. a. transitive. To involve or be accompanied by (something) as a necessary or integral part of the process, action, condition, etc.; to indicate (an underlying or attendant fact). Now rare.

1749 T. Smollett tr. A. R. Le Sage Gil Blas II. iv. viii. 84 Let it suffice to say, that her name imported the idea of a superior genius.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Mar 1 at 16:35
-6

The French language has this usage as well: "Cela importe peu."

In English though, the word "import" has never been used in that regard.

I would rather say that in English, this would be the equivalent of "It doesn't matter to me" or of "It's of a little consequence."

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    Never? Given the examples in Laurel's answer I'm not sure how you can rule out "it does not import me" from ever having been used. – nnnnnn Feb 25 at 12:55
  • Apropos de rien, I’ve discovered in medieval sources show that what is today peu m’importe in what we today call French (meaning in the northern “langues d’oïl”) was in the “lengas d'òc” of the French south (like Occitan or Provençal, now Arpitan) used the expression no m’en calha in the medieval lexicon for this. – tchrist Mar 1 at 16:58

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