in·hib·it | \in-ˈhi-bət \
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 \ adjective
inhibitory \in-ˈhi-bə-ˌtȯr-ē \ 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 Framers promulgated the Bill of Rights precisely to inhibit Congress from curtailing fundamental rights in the name of this or that exigency. WSJ, "Cellphone Site Data and Fourth Amendment," 1 July 2018 For young children to be without their parents and to be continuing to keep on red alert with these stress hormones, and to know this is going to inhibit their development and disrupt their lives, to me that is child abuse. Char Adams,, "Psychology Experts Condemn Taking Migrant Children From Parents: 'That Is Child Abuse'," 20 June 2018 The study found that a ketogenic diet fed to the epileptic mice who lacked either of these bacterial species failed to inhibit seizures. Bradley J. Fikes,, "San Diego startup Bloom Science seeks to fight epilepsy through the gut," 25 May 2018 The Yes Campaign, which is demanding a repeal of the amendment, says it has instead created a culture of shame, inhibited medical professionals and forced women to travel for abortions later in their pregnancies. Sheena Mckenzie, CNN, "'Irish abortions happen; they just don't happen on Irish soil'," 22 May 2018 The next step was coming up with a way to inhibit sEH, which is also known to cause other diseases, including hypertension and general inflammation, Zhang said. Elise Takahama,, "UMass Amherst food scientists discover how obesity could be linked to colon cancer," 30 Apr. 2018 Those were the only incidents of note in a cagey opening period, as the significance of the match seemed to inhibit both sides' creativity and attacking instincts., "Juventus Comes Back From 2-1 Deficit to Beat 10-Man Inter," 28 Apr. 2018 This inhibited not only their academic growth, but also their social and emotional growth. Damar Services, Indianapolis Star, "A peek inside Indiana’s first charter school specializing in serving students with special needs," 10 July 2018 The YIMBYs seek to dismantle the nuts and bolts of laws that inhibit new construction – from minimum lot size requirements in leafy suburbs to lengthy environmental review processes that add time and money to urban apartment projects. Gregory Scruggs, The Christian Science Monitor, "'YIMBYs' are encouraging more housing development in San Francisco," 5 June 2018

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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Statistics for inhibit

Last Updated

6 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inhibit

The first known use of inhibit was in the 15th century

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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 \
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 \

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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Comments on inhibit

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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