in·​flict | \ in-ˈflikt How to pronounce inflict (audio) \
inflicted; inflicting; inflicts

Definition of inflict

transitive verb

1a : to give by or as if by striking inflict a painful sting inflict damage
b : to cause (something unpleasant) to be endured inflict my annual message upon the church itself if it might derive benefit thereby.— Mark Twain
2 : afflict

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Other Words from inflict

inflicter or inflictor \ in-​ˈflik-​tər How to pronounce inflict (audio) \ noun
inflictive \ in-​ˈflik-​tiv How to pronounce inflict (audio) \ adjective

Examples of inflict in a Sentence

These insects are capable of inflicting a painful sting.
Recent Examples on the Web Investors continued to focus on GameStop as stocks targeted by online traders hoping to inflict damage on hedge funds spread to silver. Chronicle Staff, San Francisco Chronicle, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: Jan. 28-Feb. 3, 2021," 6 Feb. 2021 And while a handful of species inflict damage on horticulturally important trees, including members of the pine family that are valued for their timber, most mistletoes don’t infect economically important crops, Watson says. Rachel Ehrenberg, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Biology of Mistletoe," 23 Dec. 2020 The approach of death might bring relief if that process, too — with the frenzied pace of industrial slaughter lines — had not itself been designed as if to inflict maximum fear and dread right up to the end. Matthew Scully, National Review, "Hello Cultured Meat, Goodbye to the Cruelty of Industrial Animal Farming," 17 Jan. 2021 Alassane Plea scored a hat-trick -- also his first Champions League goals -- to inflict on Shakhtar its heaviest ever home defeat in European club competitions and move Monchengladbach atop Group B ahead of Real. Ben Morse, CNN, "Sergio Ramos' 100th Real Madrid goal revives 13-time winner's group stage qualification hopes," 4 Nov. 2020 History suggests that trade victories are actually hard to achieve and almost always inflict collateral damage. Paul Wiseman, Star Tribune, "Trump trade policy: 4 years of high drama. Limited results.," 27 Oct. 2020 In Michigan, members of the state’s Legislative Black Caucus proposed stripping qualified immunity from police officers who inflict unjustified violence and making those officers pay for their own liability insurance. William Thornton |, al, "Alabama police shooting case could help spark change in lawsuit immunity for officers," 14 Oct. 2020 The resulting shift in how doctors thought about the disease would, some have since argued, inflict tremendous harm on patients suffering from a very real, if ill-defined, disease. New York Times, "What If You Never Get Better From Covid-19?," 21 Jan. 2021 As a result, recessions inflict lasting scars on both workers and the economy. The Economist, "How quickly will America’s labour market recover?," 30 Dec. 2020

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

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First Known Use of inflict

1566, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for inflict

Latin inflictus, past participle of infligere, from in- + fligere to strike — more at profligate

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Time Traveler for inflict

Time Traveler

The first known use of inflict was in 1566

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Statistics for inflict

Last Updated

23 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Inflict.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for inflict



English Language Learners Definition of inflict

: to cause someone to experience or be affected by (something unpleasant or harmful)


in·​flict | \ in-ˈflikt How to pronounce inflict (audio) \
inflicted; inflicting

Kids Definition of inflict

1 : to give by or as if by striking inflict a wound
2 : to cause to be put up with … you endure the boredom that doctors and dentists inflict on their patients before bringing them in …— Lemony Snicket, The Ersatz Elevator

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