inspiration

noun
in·​spi·​ra·​tion | \ ˌin(t)-spə-ˈrā-shən , -(ˌ)spi-\

Definition of inspiration

1a : a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation
b : the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions
c : the act of influencing or suggesting opinions
2 : the act of drawing in specifically : the drawing of air into the lungs
3a : the quality or state of being inspired
b : something that is inspired a scheme that was pure inspiration
4 : an inspiring agent or influence

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Other Words from inspiration

inspirational \ ˌin(t)-​spə-​ˈrā-​shnəl , -​shə-​nᵊl , -​(ˌ)spi-​ \ adjective
inspirationally adverb

The Inspirational History of Inspiration

Inspiration has an unusual history in that its figurative sense appears to predate its literal one. It comes from the Latin inspiratus (the past participle of inspirare, “to breathe into, inspire”) and in English has had the meaning “the drawing of air into the lungs” since the middle of the 16th century. This breathing sense is still in common use among doctors, as is expiration (“the act or process of releasing air from the lungs”). However, before inspiration was used to refer to breath it had a distinctly theological meaning in English, referring to a divine influence upon a person, from a divine entity; this sense dates back to the early 14th century. The sense of inspiration often found today (“someone or something that inspires”) is considerably newer than either of these two senses, dating from the 19th century.

Examples of inspiration in a Sentence

Where does the inspiration for your art come from? His paintings take their inspiration from nature. She had a sudden inspiration. They would have the party outdoors! Deciding to have the party outdoors was sheer inspiration.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Genentech took inspiration from the commercial aviation sector, where flight has become safer in part because of simulated training, Dr. Adamis said. Sara Castellanos, WSJ, "Genentech Uses Virtual Reality to Train Eye Surgeons," 6 Feb. 2019 As noted by People, Meghan is likely to have taken inspiration for her clashing block colors from her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle's Bright Purple and Red Look Had a Sweet Connection to Princess Diana," 15 Jan. 2019 As the first comic book movie featuring a cast of primarily black leads, Black Panther took inspiration from ethnic dress all over the continent of Africa, from groups such as the Maasai, Tuareg, Akan, Mursi, and Ndebele. Rebecca Jennings, Vox, "11 pieces of clothing that explain 2018," 20 Dec. 2018 One user compared it to this cat in a tutu, and another speculated that perhaps the performer took inspiration from one of Rihanna's signature struts. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "BTS's Jungkook Strutting Down a Runway Is Now a Hilarious Meme," 17 Dec. 2018 So, take some inspiration from the movie and race over to Subway now! Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Subway Is Giving Kids Free Tickets to 'Mary Poppins Returns' Movie," 30 Nov. 2018 Ghost Face Special effects makeup artist Lisa Maria Murphy took inspiration from Ghostface in the Scream series to create this meta moment. Devon Abelman, Allure, "27 Last-Minute Halloween Costumes You Can Do With Just Makeup," 10 Oct. 2018 Fulham explain that the white home kit 'takes inspiration from the club's successful late 1990s period', with a thick black band across the shirt reminiscent of the design during that time. SI.com, "Fulham Launch 2018/19 Kits & Announce New Sponsor Ahead of Premier League Return," 11 July 2018 While some countries have banned cryptocurrency trading altogether, those still on the fence might take inspiration from this study–and investors–and start quantifying and managing the real risks. Lucaswpcom, Fortune, "Live Fast, Die Young: Many Startups Powered by Initial Coin Offerings Don't Last, But There's Still Money to Be Made," 10 July 2018

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

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

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Last Updated

15 Feb 2019

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

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More Definitions for inspiration

inspiration

noun

English Language Learners Definition of inspiration

: something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone
: a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something
: a good idea

inspiration

noun
in·​spi·​ra·​tion | \ ˌin-spə-ˈrā-shən \

Kids Definition of inspiration

1 : the act or power of arousing the mind or the emotions the inspiration of music
2 : a clever idea While deciding on a costume, I had an inspiration.
3 : something that moves someone to act, create, or feel an emotion Mountains were the painter's inspiration.

inspiration

noun
in·​spi·​ra·​tion | \ ˌin(t)-spə-ˈrā-shən, -(ˌ)spir-ˈā- \

Medical Definition of inspiration

: the drawing of air into the lungs

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More from Merriam-Webster on inspiration

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with inspiration

Spanish Central: Translation of inspiration

Nglish: Translation of inspiration for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of inspiration for Arabic Speakers

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