noun in·hi·bi·tion \ ˌin-hə-ˈbi-shən , ˌi-nə- \
|Updated on: 13 Jul 2018

Definition of inhibition

1 a : 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)

Examples of inhibition in a Sentence

  1. She laughed loudly and without inhibition.

  2. an innate inhibition made it difficult for him to tell his girlfriend what he was really feeling

Recent Examples of inhibition from the Web

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.

First Known Use of inhibition

14th century

in the meaning defined at sense 1a

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler

INHIBITION Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of inhibition for English Language Learners

  • : 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

Medical Dictionary


noun 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 patterns
  • Psychological Abstracts

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


a simultaneous discharge of guns

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Obscure Shapes

  • a-pile-of-three-dimensional-shapes-in-green
  • Something that is ooid is shaped like:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!