in·​hib·​it | \in-ˈhi-bət \
inhibited; inhibiting; inhibits

Definition of inhibit 

transitive verb

1 : to prohibit from doing something

2a : to hold in check : restrain

b : to discourage from free or spontaneous activity especially through the operation of inner psychological or external social constraints

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Other Words from inhibit

inhibitive \ in-​ˈhi-​bə-​tiv \ adjective
inhibitory \ in-​ˈhi-​bə-​ˌtȯr-​ē \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

This is done by reducing the taxes and regulations that increase the cost of build housing, and reducing state and local regulations that inhibit the construction of new housing, throwing zoning restrictions. Amy Chance, sacbee, ""Build a lot more of it": What California can do to solve its housing problem," 18 June 2018 But what inhibits us can turn into the motors and change that. Patrick Pacheco,, "Ari'el Stachel talks backstage about embracing his Middle Eastern heritage, and now a Tony Award," 11 June 2018 Richard Lipton, director of the Montefiore Headache Center in New York City, says triptans were developed in response to the older idea that the dilation of blood vessels is the primary cause of migraine; triptans were supposed to inhibit it. David Noonan, Scientific American, "New Nerve Drugs May Finally Prevent Migraine Headaches," 1 Dec. 2015 Even though all of Bitcoin’s transactions are recorded on a blockchain, the transparency didn’t seem to inhibit trickery here. Farhad Manjoo, New York Times, "Farhad’s Week in Tech: Bitcoin and the Scams Under Everything," 15 June 2018 The Framers promulgated the Bill of Rights precisely to inhibit Congress from curtailing fundamental rights in the name of this or that exigency. WSJ, "Cellphone Site Data and Fourth Amendment," 1 July 2018 For young children to be without their parents and to be continuing to keep on red alert with these stress hormones, and to know this is going to inhibit their development and disrupt their lives, to me that is child abuse. Char Adams,, "Psychology Experts Condemn Taking Migrant Children From Parents: 'That Is Child Abuse'," 20 June 2018 The study found that a ketogenic diet fed to the epileptic mice who lacked either of these bacterial species failed to inhibit seizures. Bradley J. Fikes,, "San Diego startup Bloom Science seeks to fight epilepsy through the gut," 25 May 2018 The Yes Campaign, which is demanding a repeal of the amendment, says it has instead created a culture of shame, inhibited medical professionals and forced women to travel for abortions later in their pregnancies. Sheena Mckenzie, CNN, "'Irish abortions happen; they just don't happen on Irish soil'," 22 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of inhibit

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

History and Etymology for inhibit

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

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Statistics for inhibit

Last Updated

1 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inhibit

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

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More Definitions for inhibit



English Language Learners Definition of inhibit

: to keep (someone) from doing what he or she wants to do

: to prevent or slow down the activity or occurrence of (something)


in·​hib·​it | \in-ˈhi-bət \
inhibited; inhibiting

Kids Definition of inhibit

: to prevent or hold back from doing something Shyness inhibited her in making new friends.


transitive verb
in·​hib·​it | \in-ˈhib-ət \

Medical Definition of inhibit 

1a : to restrain from free or spontaneous activity especially through the operation of inner psychological or external social constraints an inhibited person

b : to check or restrain the force or vitality of inhibit aggressive tendencies

2a : 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

b : to retard or prevent the formation of

c : to retard, interfere with, or prevent (a process or reaction) inhibit ovulation

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Comments on inhibit

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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