for·​bid·​ding fər-ˈbi-diŋ How to pronounce forbidding (audio)
: such as to make approach or passage difficult or impossible
forbidding walls
: disagreeable, repellent
a forbidding task
: grim, menacing
a dark forbidding sky
forbiddingly adverb

Example Sentences

a harsh and forbidding landscape a dark, forbidding house, that is reputed to be haunted
Recent Examples on the Web Perhaps its rightful home is streaming, but that’s just a way of saying that in its stolid and forbidding way, it seems destined to be tossed, like everything else, into the vast sea of content. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 17 May 2023 Mike Leigh’s most recent Oscar nomination came from writing this bittersweet drama, which displays his trademark humanism but with a more forbidding outlook than Happy-Go-Lucky (some of Leigh’s other great works worth checking out include Vera Drake, Secrets & Lies, and Topsy-Turvy). David Sims, The Atlantic, 26 Feb. 2022 In a world—or rather, separated by time, two worlds; or indeed, counting the narrator’s British life, three—more forbidding and austere than those depicted in Spiotta’s and Mairal’s novels, there is nonetheless respite, even solace, to be found in precise and exhilarating observation. Claire Messud, Harper's Magazine, 22 June 2021 When Gary heads out to find him, the story grows forbidding and a little kinky. Anita Felicelli, Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2023 Similar drone systems could help researchers reach other forbidding areas such as the tabletop mountains that jut above the Amazon jungle, or the sky islands (isolated mountain ranges rising abruptly from the desert) of the southwestern U.S. Susan Cosier, Scientific American, 12 Oct. 2022 The depressed wages and stingier benefits permitted by this legally sanctioned monopoly make medicine a more forbidding place for those without wealth and for those balancing work with child care. Clifford M. Marks, STAT, 19 Mar. 2021 Amid a forbidding landscape of dusty desert, dry hills, and volcanic craters on the eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada, Mono Lake was nearly destroyed by Los Angeles' thirst for the waters that fed it. Deb Hopewell, Travel + Leisure, 3 Feb. 2023 The world’s energy giants were on the move, dispatching their sharpest petroleum engineers, sophisticated seismic probes, and huge rigs to some of the most forbidding places on the planet, from the Gulf of Mexico to Greenland. Mac Margolis, Discover Magazine, 27 Apr. 2011 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of forbidding was in 1599

Dictionary Entries Near forbidding

Cite this Entry

“Forbidding.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


: tending to frighten or discourage
a dark forbidding sky
forbiddingly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on forbidding

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