noun in·spi·ra·tion \ ˌin(t)-spə-ˈrā-shən , -(ˌ)spi- \
|Updated on: 16 Aug 2018

Definition of inspiration

1 a : 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
3 a : the quality or state of being inspired
b : something that is inspired
  • a scheme that was pure inspiration
4 : an inspiring agent or influence


play \ˌin(t)-spə-ˈrā-shnəl, -shə-nᵊl, -(ˌ)spi-\ adjective



Examples of inspiration in a Sentence

  1. Where does the inspiration for your art come from?

  2. His paintings take their inspiration from nature.

  3. She had a sudden inspiration. They would have the party outdoors!

  4. Deciding to have the party outdoors was sheer inspiration.

Recent Examples of inspiration from the Web

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.

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.

First Known Use of inspiration

14th century

in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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INSPIRATION Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of inspiration for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids


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

Definition of inspiration for Students

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.

Medical Dictionary


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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resembling the blue of the sky

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