in·flict | \in-ˈflikt \
inflicted; inflicting; inflicts

Definition of inflict 

transitive verb

1 : afflict

2a : 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

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Other Words from inflict

inflicter or inflictor \in-ˈflik-tər \ noun
inflictive \in-ˈflik-tiv \ adjective

Examples of inflict in a Sentence

These insects are capable of inflicting a painful sting.

Recent Examples on the Web

Harvey, Irma and Maria were each among the five costliest hurricanes on record and collectively inflicted $265 billion in damages. Laignee Barron, Time, "FEMA Says It Was Significantly Unprepared When Hurricane Maria Hit Puerto Rico," 13 July 2018 Interior Department staffers also pushed back on efforts by political appointees to put federal land up for auction before scientific assessments on the potential damage drilling could inflict on wildlife were finished. Zack Colman, Scientific American, "A Trump Oil Boom Could Transform This Rocky Mountain Landscape," 13 July 2018 Now, as a TV show, Sharp Objects takes a genre fixated on harm to women’s bodies and makes it about the harm women inflict on themselves. Anna Silman, The Cut, "Sharp Objects," 11 July 2018 The emotional toll that separation and detention inflict upon these small children will impact them for years, if not a lifetime. San Antonio Express-News, "Indefinite detention — as immoral as family separation," 2 July 2018 In New York, a wave of taxi driver suicides has highlighted ride-hailing’s devastating impact on that industry nationwide, but the new data suggests that the taxi industry itself has inflicted harm that Uber and Lyft could help mitigate. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Ride-Hailing Apps May Benefit Poor and Minority Communities The Most, Study Suggests," 30 June 2018 In the wake of #MeToo, Monica Lewinsky reflected on the humiliation that the media and powerful figures inflicted upon her decades ago. Rhaina Cohen, The New Republic, "What the 1990s Got Wrong," 29 June 2018 The retaliation was carefully tailored to fit global rules, inflict pain in politically critical states ahead of U.S. midterm elections and raise the specter of shutting U.S. exporters out of their biggest market. Emre Peker, WSJ, "EU Sees Itself Holding the Line in Response to U.S. Metals Tariff," 28 June 2018 British pop singer Kate Nash has long championed female empowerment through frank, vulnerable songwriting about sexuality and relationships and the bumps and bruises life inflicts. charlotteobserver, "One of the stars of Netflix’s ‘GLOW’ brings female-empowering pop music to Charlotte | Charlotte Observer," 26 Apr. 2018

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 1

History and Etymology for inflict

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

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Statistics for inflict

Last Updated

23 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inflict

The first known use of inflict was in 1566

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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 \
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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Comments on inflict

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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