in·​hi·​bi·​tion | \ ˌin-hə-ˈbi-shən How to pronounce inhibition (audio) , ˌi-nə- \

Definition of inhibition

1 : 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)
2a : the act of inhibiting : the state of being inhibited
b : something that forbids, debars, or restricts

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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 Public health officials consider bars the highest-risk businesses during the pandemic because alcohol consumption reduces inhibition and impairs judgment, leading people to forget using face coverings or keep a safe distance from each other. USA TODAY, "Vaccine research, firework plans, school rules: News from around our 50 states," 27 May 2020 The patients also experienced heightened anxiety and inhibition, along with diminished reward signaling in their brains. Jennifer Couzin-frankel, Science | AAAS, "Rethinking anorexia: Biology may be more important than culture, new studies reveal," 9 Apr. 2020 Most of the album’s 11 songs are a celebration of love without inhibition. Cat Cardenas, Teen Vogue, "Dua Lipa "Future Nostalgia" Review: Dancing As the World Stills," 27 Mar. 2020 In the four months since Smith announced his gift during a commencement speech at Morehouse, the graduating class has embarked on a new stage of their lives without the inhibitions of student debt. Washington Post, "Robert F. Smith’s Morehouse pledge is getting a lot bigger," 20 Sep. 2019 There’s something about social distancing’s complete lack of context and the evaporation of FOMO that makes people lose their inhibitions and step into the limelight. Flora Tsapovsky, Wired, "Could the Coronavirus Kill Influencer Culture?," 14 Apr. 2020 Fox and Rubin found, and other researchers have since confirmed, that parenting style at age 2 predicts continuing behavioral inhibition at age 4—and, in turn, later risk of psychological problems. Kate Julian, The Atlantic, "The Anxious Child," 14 Apr. 2020 Even at a moment of global fear of contagion, a spirit of generosity and communal love of Burgundy overcame inhibitions. Eric Asimov, New York Times, "A Vintage Bash for All Things Burgundy," 10 Mar. 2020 Of all the problems on Twitter, however, social inhibition does not typically rise to the top of the list. Arielle Pardes, Wired, "Twitter Is Testing Out Disappearing Tweets," 4 Mar. 2020

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 2a

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Time Traveler for inhibition

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for inhibition

Last Updated

4 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Inhibition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for inhibition


How to pronounce inhibition (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of inhibition

: a nervous feeling that prevents you from expressing your thoughts, emotions, or desires
technical : the act of preventing or slowing the activity or occurrence of something


in·​hi·​bi·​tion | \ ˌin-(h)ə-ˈbish-ən How to pronounce inhibition (audio) \

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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