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

Examples of inhibit in a Sentence

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 The hummingbird’s inability to walk does not appear to inhibit them in any way, and simply adds to the joy of watching one of nature’s tiny, beautiful creatures. Ernie Cowan, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 May 2024 Researchers worry that the conflict in Ukraine is inhibiting the eagles’ breeding and, as a result, hurting their ability to survive as a whole. Aaron Boorstein, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 May 2024 Subsequent research determined that disulfiram inhibits alcohol metabolism, leading to the accumulation of acetaldehyde. Joseph P. Schacht, The Conversation, 20 May 2024 Straw is also less likely than hay to have been treated with pesticides, which would inhibit your plants or prevent their growth altogether. Jessica Damiano, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for inhibit 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'inhibit.' 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 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 16 Jun. 2024.

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 itH. 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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