in·​hib·​it in-ˈhi-bət How to pronounce inhibit (audio)
inhibited; inhibiting; inhibits

transitive verb

: to prohibit from doing something
: to hold in check : restrain
: to discourage from free or spontaneous activity especially through the operation of inner psychological or external social constraints
inhibitive adjective
inhibitory adjective
Choose the Right Synonym for inhibit

forbid, prohibit, interdict, inhibit mean to debar one from doing something or to order that something not be done.

forbid implies that the order is from one in authority and that obedience is expected.

smoking is forbidden in the building

prohibit suggests the issuing of laws, statutes, or regulations.

prohibited the sale of liquor

interdict implies prohibition by civil or ecclesiastical authority usually for a given time or a declared purpose.

practices interdicted by the church

inhibit implies restraints or restrictions that amount to prohibitions, not only by authority but also by the exigencies of the time or situation.

conditions inhibiting the growth of free trade

Example Sentences

You shouldn't allow fear of failure to inhibit you. He was inhibited by modesty. Fear can inhibit people from expressing their opinions. drugs that are used to inhibit infection Strict laws are inhibiting economic growth.
Recent Examples on the Web Therefore, agents that inhibit PCSK9 increase the number of LDL receptors that remove cholesterol. cleveland, 19 Nov. 2022 Thus, therapies that inhibit the production of estrogen can prevent cancer cells from growing and multiplying. Petra Guglielmetti, Glamour, 12 Nov. 2022 In 1659, officials sank it—along with nine other large Swedish ships—to serve as part of an underwater barrier that would inhibit enemies from getting to Stockholm by sea. Jacquelyne Germain, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Oct. 2022 The ingredient that puts the poison in many types of rat poison is brodifacoum, a powerful anticoagulant that can inhibit the enzyme vitamin K epoxide reductase. Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes, 8 Oct. 2022 Local governments can start by reforming policies that inhibit new housing. Christopher Ptomey, Fortune, 24 Aug. 2022 Remote workers, meanwhile, are more prone to distractions at home that can inhibit their concentration and participation. Johnny C. Taylor, CNN, 15 Aug. 2022 But the road to such extremes can be paved with a series of lesser nondisclosures that inhibit the free flow of scientific data essential for assessing potential risks long before treatments are given to people. Eric B. Kmiec, STAT, 13 July 2022 When we are spoiled with good weather, there are fewer factors to inhibit our desire to fully express ourselves through fashion, giving us the chance to try different facets of our personalities or even dress in a new one. Frances Solá-santiago,, 29 Sep. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Middle English, from Latin inhibitus, past participle of inhibēre, from in- in- entry 2 + habēre to have — more at habit entry 1

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near inhibit

Cite this Entry

“Inhibit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



in·​hib·​it in-ˈhib-ət How to pronounce inhibit (audio)
: to prevent or hold back from doing something : restrain, repress
fear can inhibit the natural expression of feelings
: to prevent or slow down the activity or occurrence of
oil inhibits rust
a drug which inhibits an infection
-ə-ˌtōr-ē How to pronounce inhibit (audio)

Medical Definition


transitive verb

in·​hib·​it in-ˈhib-ət How to pronounce inhibit (audio)
: to restrain from free or spontaneous activity especially through the operation of inner psychological or external social constraints
an inhibited person
: to check or restrain the force or vitality of
inhibit aggressive tendencies
: to reduce or suppress the activity of
a presynaptic neuron can not only excite a postsynaptic neuron but can also inhibit it H. W. Kendler
: to retard or prevent the formation of
: to retard, interfere with, or prevent (a process or reaction)
inhibit ovulation

More from Merriam-Webster on inhibit

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