in·​flate in-ˈflāt How to pronounce inflate (audio)
inflated; inflating

transitive verb

: to swell or distend with air or gas
: to puff up : elate
inflate one's ego
: to expand or increase abnormally or imprudently
inflator noun
or inflater
Choose the Right Synonym for inflate

expand, amplify, swell, distend, inflate, dilate mean to increase in size or volume.

expand may apply regardless of the manner of increase (such as growth, unfolding, addition of parts).

a business that expands every year

amplify implies the extension or enlargement of something inadequate.

amplify the statement with details

swell implies gradual expansion beyond a thing's original or normal limits.

the bureaucracy swelled to unmanageable proportions

distend implies outward extension caused by pressure from within.

a distended abdomen

inflate implies expanding by introduction of air or something insubstantial and suggests a vulnerability to sudden collapse.

an inflated ego

dilate applies especially to expansion of circumference.

dilated pupils

Examples of inflate in a Sentence

We used a pump to inflate the raft. Economists warn that rapid economic growth could inflate prices. Increased competition has inflated salaries among professional athletes. Rapid economic growth may cause prices to inflate.
Recent Examples on the Web Their latest championship surely will inflate that number even further. Zack Cox, Hartford Courant, 1 July 2024 No more releases of balloons: Under the law, those who intentionally release balloons inflated with a gas lighter than air will be littering and face a $150 fine. Gabriela Henriquez Stoikow, Orlando Sentinel, 30 June 2024 Using X-ray guidance, the doctors passed a wire through a gap the size of a pinhole and inflated a tiny balloon to slowly widen the passage. Hilary Whiteman, CNN, 30 June 2024 Animatronic reindeer and inflated waving Santas, holiday anthems blaring over the growling generators. Lizz Schumer, Peoplemag, 29 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for inflate 

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

Word History


Middle English, from Latin inflatus, past participle of inflare, from in- + flare to blow — more at blow

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of inflate was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near inflate

Cite this Entry

“Inflate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


in·​flate in-ˈflāt How to pronounce inflate (audio)
inflated; inflating
: to swell or fill with air or gas
inflate a balloon
: to increase abnormally
inflated prices

Medical Definition


in·​flate in-ˈflāt How to pronounce inflate (audio)
inflated; inflating

transitive verb

: to swell or distend with air or gas
inflate the lungs
inflation noun
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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