for·bid | \fər-ˈbid, fȯr-\
forbade\fər-ˈbad, -ˈbād, fȯr- \ also forbad\fər-ˈbad, fȯr- \; forbidden\fər-ˈbi-dᵊn, fȯr- \; forbidding

Definition of forbid 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : 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.

2 : 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.



Definition of forbid (Entry 2 of 2)


: accursed he shall live a man forbid— William Shakespeare

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from forbid


forbidder noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for forbid

Synonyms: Verb

ban, bar, enjoin, interdict, outlaw, prohibit, proscribe

Antonyms: Verb

allow, let, permit, suffer

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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


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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Governed by the forbidding Big Mother (Susanne Sachsße), the group consists of four middle-aged leaders and eight young recruits, the older women training the younger ones in subjects that range from physical fitness to history to astrology. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "Lesbian revolutionaries smash sexual taboos to undermine the patriarchy in Bruce LaBruce's The Misandrists," 6 July 2018 Even the mother of my older brothers could have passed for white. Perhaps some of it is the allure of the forbidden. John Blake, CNN, "The blurring of racial lines won't save America. Why 'racial fluidity' is a con," 11 June 2018 The transformation of so many forbidding spaces was an inspiration to José Velázquez, the former executive director of Latino Memphis, an advocacy group. Alyson Krueger, New York Times, "From Blight to Bright Lights in Memphis," 18 May 2018 Of course, on the other side, there are so many forbidding negatives! Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "A Vintner’s Quest to Create a Truly American Wine," 14 May 2018 Religion was forbidden, even though Dolphins players pray on the 50 yard line before games. Molly Knight, Marie Claire, "NFL Cheerleaders Shamed for Being Too Sexy—and Not Having Sex at All," 1 May 2018 Men in other camps and housing developments are also forbidden from having women over, in an effort to keep out prostitutes. Longreads, "Life on the Oil Frontier," 23 Apr. 2018 Nonprofits such as this, which advocate for policy issues, are forbidden from contributing directly to candidates. David S. Rauf, Scientific American, "Why You Can't Learn about Money behind a Pro-Science Political Group," 28 Mar. 2018 As of November 11, 1957, when the above map was made, anyone traveling to the United States on a Soviet passport was forbidden from visiting Long Island, much of Northern California, and nearly the entire east coast of Florida. National Geographic, "Russians Were Once Banned From a Third of the U.S.," 26 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'forbid.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of forbid


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


1606, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for forbid


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


see forbid entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about forbid

Phrases Related to forbid

God/heaven forbid

Statistics for forbid

Last Updated

8 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for forbid

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for forbid



English Language Learners Definition of forbid

: to order (someone) not to do something

: to say that (something) is not allowed


for·bid | \fər-ˈbid \
forbade\-ˈbad \; forbidden\-ˈbi-dᵊn \; forbidding

Kids Definition of forbid

: to order not to do something I forbid you to go!

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on forbid

What made you want to look up forbid? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!