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for·​bid fər-ˈbid How to pronounce forbid (audio)
forbade fər-ˈbad How to pronounce forbid (audio)
fȯr- How to pronounce forbid (audio)
also forbad fər-ˈbad How to pronounce forbid (audio)
; forbidden fər-ˈbi-dᵊn How to pronounce forbid (audio)
; forbidding

transitive verb

: to proscribe (see proscribe sense 2) from or as if from the position of one in authority : command against
The law forbids stores to sell liquor to minors.
Her mother forbids her to go.
: to hinder or prevent as if by an effectual command
Space forbids further treatment here.
Modesty forbids telling what my part was in the affair.
forbidder noun


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: accursed
he shall live a man forbidWilliam Shakespeare
Choose the Right Synonym for forbid

forbid, prohibit, interdict, inhibit mean to debar one from doing something or to order that something not be done.

forbid implies that the order is from one in authority and that obedience is expected.

smoking is forbidden in the building

prohibit suggests the issuing of laws, statutes, or regulations.

prohibited the sale of liquor

interdict implies prohibition by civil or ecclesiastical authority usually for a given time or a declared purpose.

practices interdicted by the church

inhibit implies restraints or restrictions that amount to prohibitions, not only by authority but also by the exigencies of the time or situation.

conditions inhibiting the growth of free trade

Examples of forbid in a Sentence

Verb I forbid you to go! She was forbidden by her parents to marry him. She was forbidden from marrying him. The museum forbids flash photography. The company's rules forbid dating among employees.
Recent Examples on the Web
In the motion, the lawyers argued that children who have not yet been formally apprehended deserve the same safe and sanitary housing as those already in official custody, since they are forbidden from moving from the camps and have no way of going back over the border. Emily Baumgaertner, New York Times, 4 Apr. 2024 New York state’s rules of professional conduct for lawyers forbid attorneys from knowingly making false statements to a court. Robert Faturechi, ProPublica, 5 Apr. 2024 Netflix is welcome on the Croisette and nothing forbids their presence. Elsa Keslassy, Variety, 3 Apr. 2024 At the heart of their argument was the notion that Burris repeatedly mentioned details that Patton had forbidden from becoming a part of the proceedings. Jakob Rodgers, The Mercury News, 3 Apr. 2024 Under Proposition 103, the state’s law governing the insurance industry, companies had been forbidden from passing on reinsurance costs to customers and were required to set rates based only on historical fire data. Anthony De Leon, Los Angeles Times, 29 Mar. 2024 One explanation for it is that eggs were formerly forbidden to eat during Lent, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period and later eat them on Easter. Marina Johnson, The Indianapolis Star, 25 Mar. 2024 Instead of forbidding gas in new or existing construction, local governments in California are electing to set energy efficiency standards for buildings. Ari Plachta, Sacramento Bee, 25 Mar. 2024 In the past few months, deep in the forbidding deserts of central Syria, Russian forces have quietly joined the Syrian military in intensifying attacks against Islamic State strongholds, including bombing what local news reports called the dens and caves where the extremist fighters hide. Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, 24 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'forbid.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb and Adjective

Middle English forbidden, from Old English forbēodan, from for- + bēodan to bid — more at bid entry 1

First Known Use


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1606, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of forbid was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near forbid

Cite this Entry

“Forbid.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


also forbad
; forbidden
; forbidding
: to order not to do or to be done or used
I forbid you to go
cameras are forbidden
forbidder noun

More from Merriam-Webster on forbid

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