in·​hib·​it | \ in-ˈhi-bət How to pronounce inhibit (audio) \
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 How to pronounce inhibitive (audio) \ adjective
inhibitory \ in-​ˈhi-​bə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce inhibitory (audio) \ 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 In the battle against coronavirus, which can inhibit a person’s ability to breathe, ventilators are a crucial tool in short supply. Alex Davies, Wired, "The High-Stakes Race to Build More Ventilators," 2 Apr. 2020 That inflammation can inhibit a person’s ability to smell—also known as anosmia. Chase Purdy, Quartz, "The loss of taste and smell are possible symptoms of Covid-19," 23 Mar. 2020 This discovery allowed them to point to the specific molecular interactions that can inhibit skin inflammation in an animal model of psoriasis which is similar to the skin pathology observed in plaque psoriasis. Sun Pharmaceuticals, WIRED, "IL-23: The Master Regulator Behind Plaque Psoriasis," 30 Oct. 2019 The acidity can inhibit shell growth in crabs and other marine animals, kill off coral reefs, and cause reproductive disorders in some fish. Peter Fimrite,, "Scientists assess waters off San Francisco and fear a climatic intruder," 27 Sep. 2019 Dust from the Sahara Desert can also inhibit storm formation, as was the case early last summer. Dave Epstein,, "What you need to know about hurricane season," 3 Sep. 2019 Testing of these revealed that over half inhibited the growth of bacteria. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "A neural network picks promising antibiotics out of a library of chemicals," 22 Feb. 2020 Tu and her research team were able to extract a malaria-inhibiting substance called artemisinin (or qinghaosu in Chinese) from wormwood. Lauren Kent, CNN, "The heroines STEM: Ten women in science you should know," 28 Jan. 2020 The rules also prohibited physical restraints that could inhibit a student’s breathing, including prone and supine restraints. Jennifer Smith Richards, ProPublica, "Illinois Will Allow Prone, Supine Restraints on Children While Schools Learn to Phase Them Out," 5 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for inhibit

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for inhibit

Last Updated

16 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Inhibit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for inhibit


How to pronounce inhibit (audio)

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 How to pronounce inhibit (audio) \
inhibited; inhibiting

Kids Definition of inhibit

: to prevent or hold back from doing something Shyness inhibited her in making new friends.
in·​hib·​it | \ in-ˈhib-ət How to pronounce inhibit (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on inhibit

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inhibit

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with inhibit

Spanish Central: Translation of inhibit

Nglish: Translation of inhibit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of inhibit for Arabic Speakers

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