for·​bid·​ding | \fər-ˈbi-diŋ, fȯr-\

Definition of forbidding 

1 : such as to make approach or passage difficult or impossible forbidding walls

2 : disagreeable, repellent a forbidding task

3 : grim, menacing a dark forbidding sky

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from forbidding

forbiddingly \ fər-​ˈbi-​diŋ-​lē , fȯr-​ \ adverb

Examples of forbidding in a Sentence

a harsh and forbidding landscape a dark, forbidding house, that is reputed to be haunted

Recent Examples on the Web

Nearly all wild horses live in the Great Basin of Nevada and surrounding states, in some of the most forbidding land in America. New York Times, "Let Mountain Lions Eat Horses," 12 May 2018 But Democratic candidates in special elections for vacant House seats in more forbidding territory — including Arizona, southwestern Pennsylvania and South Carolina — have performed strongly since President Trump’s inauguration. New York Times, "An Ohio Special Election Shapes Up as a Big Test of the ‘Blue Wave’," 9 May 2018 Toughest to realize is Lear himself, who, along with Hamlet, remains one of Shakespeare’s most forbidding creations. David Yezzi, WSJ, "‘Lear: The Great Image of Authority’ Review: A Master Class in Tragedy," 20 Apr. 2018 Rollin’s depiction of the area is stark and forbidding, though his depiction of the lovers is natural and charming. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "Film / Foreign / Paranormal Discover the erotic, macabre world of French director Jean Rollin," 1 Mar. 2018 All of these stately and forbidding pictures are intensified by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch’s groaning, grinding score, a nod to the pulsating, synth-heavy Vangelis original with the volume turned way up. Richard Lawson,, "Blade Runner 2049 Review: Jaw-Dropping Style but Too Little Substance," 3 Oct. 2017 What Is To Be Done? was an exhortation to his party that this could still be done, even under the forbidding police-state conditions in Russia—that the workers were ready to play their historical role if there was someone willing to organize them. David Sessions, New Republic, "The Radical Hopes of the Russian Revolution," 20 Sep. 2017 David’s memories turn out to be a uniquely forbidding place full of dark patches and impassible zones of a kind neither Ptonomy nor Melanie have ever seen before. Sam Adams, Slate Magazine, "FX’s attempt to reinvent the superhero genre is a show with a Rubik’s Cube where its heart should be.," 8 Feb. 2017 Shelly Island came to the nation’s attention about two months ago and has become known for being mysterious and forbidding, including news on July 14 that a World War II-era military training device washed up on shore. Mark Price, charlotteobserver, "NASA satellite images show how NC’s new island was born," 20 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'forbidding.' 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 forbidding

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about forbidding

Share forbidding

Statistics for forbidding

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for forbidding

The first known use of forbidding was in 1599

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for forbidding



English Language Learners Definition of forbidding

: not friendly or appealing : having a frightening or threatening appearance


for·​bid·​ding | \fər-ˈbi-diŋ\

Kids Definition of forbidding

: tending to frighten or discourage a forbidding old house

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on forbidding

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


by force of circumstances

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Bee Cubed

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!