in·​hi·​bi·​tion | \ˌin-hə-ˈbi-shən, ˌi-nə-\

Definition of inhibition 

1a : the act of inhibiting : the state of being inhibited

b : something that forbids, debars, or restricts

2 : an inner impediment to free activity, expression, or functioning: such as

a : a mental process imposing restraint upon behavior or another mental process (such as a desire)

b : a restraining of the function of a bodily organ or an agent (such as an enzyme)

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Examples of inhibition in a Sentence

She laughed loudly and without inhibition. an innate inhibition made it difficult for him to tell his girlfriend what he was really feeling

Recent Examples on the Web

The shy and uptight sacrifice their inhibitions for the gift of clear, soft skin. Katheryn Erickson, Town & Country, "Beauty Address: Dangene's Institute of Skinovation," 16 Feb. 2014 In humans, this transporter regulates mood and, when exposed to MDMA, loosens social inhibitions—part of why ecstasy is so popular as a party drug. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "Octopuses Take Ecstasy for Science and Become More Social Creatures," 20 Sep. 2018 The findings build on similar research in recent years that suggests wealth and power strip people of their inhibitions, increase risk taking and feelings of entitlement and invulnerability. William Wan, The Seattle Times, "Are rich people more likely to lie, cheat, steal? Science explains the world of Manafort and Gates.," 13 Aug. 2018 In many ways the regulatory process is an inhibition to creative competition and at worse, a threat to the safety of our patients., "Healthcare regulation, too much and often wrong," 4 June 2018 The Dutch researchers described these traits — gloominess combined with emotional inhibition — as typifying the distressed, or Type D, personality. Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, "Are You a ‘Type D’ Athlete? Relax and Ask for Help," 23 May 2018 Unavailable men can want without inhibition, knowing that sooner or later reality will intervene. Shelly Oria, Longreads, "How to Be Single," 2 July 2018 How much of your inhibition around sexuality has to do with anxieties regarding your aging body? Cheryl Strayed, New York Times, "I’m 70, and I Want to Still Want Sex," 22 May 2018 The sweet fragrance of love's favorite flower fills the air as inhibitions disappear. Kat Bein, Billboard, "Afrojack Drops 'Bed Of Roses' Featuring Stanaj for Valentine's Day: Listen," 14 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inhibition.' 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 inhibition

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Last Updated

30 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for inhibition

The first known use of inhibition was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of inhibition

: a nervous feeling that prevents you from expressing your thoughts, emotions, or desires

: the act of preventing or slowing the activity or occurrence of something


in·​hi·​bi·​tion | \ˌin-(h)ə-ˈbish-ən \

Medical Definition of inhibition 

: the act or an instance of inhibiting or the state of being inhibited: as

a(1) : a stopping or checking of a bodily action : a restraining of the function of an organ or an agent (as a digestive fluid or enzyme) inhibition of the heartbeat by stimulation of the vagus nerve inhibition of plantar reflexes

(2) : interference with or retardation or prevention of a process or activity inhibition of bacterial growth

b(1) : a desirable restraint or check upon the free or spontaneous instincts or impulses of an individual guided or directed by the social and cultural forces of the environment the self-control so developed is called inhibition— C. W. Russell

(2) : a neurotic restraint upon a normal or beneficial impulse or activity caused by psychological inner conflicts or by sociocultural forces of the environment other outspoken neurotic manifestations are general inhibitions such as inability to think, to concentrate— Muriel Ivimey inhibitions, phobias, compulsions, and other neurotic patternsPsychological Abstracts

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