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 At the same time, though, the far-right rebels have also inhibited that process by blocking debate on two such bills in the last several months. Marianna Sotomayor, Washington Post, 24 Sep. 2023 The erosion of rights has also inhibited the ability of investors, financial analysts and academics to speak freely. Alexandra Stevenson, New York Times, 21 Sep. 2023 However, in the presence of GLP-1, glucagon is inhibited. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 19 Sep. 2023 While too much leavening can lead to an overly dense muffin, too little can also inhibit the muffins from rising adequately to create a fluffy and light texture that's not too chewy. Melissa Gray, Southern Living, 18 Sep. 2023 In addition to its direct health effects, anemia can inhibit brain development and fine motor skills in children and heighten the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, dementia and other chronic illnesses in older adults. Nicholas Kassebaum, The Conversation, 8 Sep. 2023 But nothing inhibits recovery from mental illness like not-knowing does. Wilson M. Sims, Longreads, 7 Sep. 2023 That's where alcohol sometimes steps in, numbing the discomfort while inhibiting emotional closeness. Dr. Catalina Lawsin, USA TODAY, 23 Aug. 2023 According to the pros at Whirlpool, this can block the detergent door, inhibiting the solution from making its way to the rest of the dishes. Patricia Shannon, Southern Living, 21 Aug. 2023 See More

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 29 Sep. 2023.

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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