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 inhibit (audio) \ adjective
inhibitory \ in-​ˈhi-​bə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce inhibit (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 The mounds inhibit oxygen exchange and expose the trunk to rot, pests and pathogens. cleveland, "Here are some tree-planting tips as Arbor Day, Earth Day approach," 15 Apr. 2021 The closest Gates has come to conceding that vaccine monopolies inhibit production came during a January interview with South Africa’s Mail & Guardian. Alexander Zaitchik, The New Republic, "How Bill Gates Impeded Global Access to Covid Vaccines," 12 Apr. 2021 The most effective treatments inhibit PDE5 production. Norcal Marketing Llc, Chron, "5 Best Male Enhancement Pills: Top Sex Enhancer Supplements For Men 2021," 4 Feb. 2021 Shares of Baiyunshan climbed 13% in Hong Kong and by the 10% limit in Shanghai on Friday after one of the nation’s top medical advisers reportedly said one of its treatments could potentially inhibit Covid-19., "Chinese Firm Says Work Still Needed on Drug After Shares Surge," 18 Oct. 2020 Aside from their nutritious and richness of bioactive substances, researchers in the U.S. found that Asparagopsis taxiformis a red algae growing in the tropics, can inhibit the development of methane in the stomach of cows up to 80%. Daniela De Lorenzo, Forbes, "A Seaweed Diet Could Reduce Cattle’s CO2 Emissions," 20 Apr. 2021 Oberstein named the difficulties of direct action during the pandemic, and China’s world preeminence — compared to Sudan’s relative powerlessness — and how that can inhibit Jewish action. Ron Kampeas,, "The next major Jewish action is on behalf of China’s Uighurs," 6 Apr. 2021 These hormones can also inhibit the normal levels of reproductive hormones, which can suppress ovulation. Eleanor Morgan,, "The Physical Pandemic: What Has The Last Year Done To Our Bodies?," 29 Mar. 2021 Being goal directed in the bedroom is a great way to inhibit the natural pleasures of being in the experience as is—and that’s where all the fun is. Dr. Nan Wise, Glamour, "Why the Coital Alignment Technique Will Change Your Sex Life, According to a Neuroscientist," 19 Mar. 2021

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

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Inhibit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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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 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.


transitive verb
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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