Imprinting is a term that is used in psychology that describes any kind of phase-sensitive learning. (Phase-sensitive learning os learning that occurs at a paticular age or stage of life.) This learning is quick and it is independednt of the consequences of behavior. Imprinting was first used t describe situatins in which an animal or person learns the characteristics of some stimulus, which is then said to be "imprinted" ont the subject.
For example, baby birds follow the mother bird around and do whatever she does because of imprinting. Because of this process of imprinting, certain birds and mammals form attachments during a critical period very early on in their lives. During this point in their develpment, the birds are so available t form attachments, that even if there is no mother bird at all around, they would develop a substitute. For example, if you hatched several baby geese and raised them withut a mother goose being around, the chicks would percieve you as their mother and imprint to YOU. They would try to follow YOU arund and try t mimic your behaviors-- just as if YOU were their mother. This is the way they learn the behavirs and characteristics of their species. This is the foundation of imprinting.