inspiration

noun
in·​spi·​ra·​tion | \ ˌin(t)-spə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce inspiration (audio) , -(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 How to pronounce inspirational (audio) , -​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

Her appetite for living life on the edge and pursuing her dreams to the fullest is an inspiration to me and all who knew her. Aurelie Corinthios, PEOPLE.com, "Late Mythbusters Star and Race Car Driver Jessi Combs to Be Honored with Exhibit in Los Angeles," 17 Sep. 2019 Skip to main content From the movie screen to the stage, Jennifer Lopez has been an inspiration to many. Maeve Mcdermott, USA TODAY, "Jennifer Lopez was warned not to do 'American Idol': 'Your career will be over'," 26 Aug. 2019 Just like many, many brides before her, Meghan turned to Pinterest to find some inspiration for her big day. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Used Pinterest to Plan Her Wedding, According to Her Close Friend Daniel Martin," 20 Aug. 2019 But just as the summertime anthem dropped, a Twitter user named Giovanni (whose handle is lasagnabby) subverted its inspiration for the looming cooler weather. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "“Christian girl autumn,” explained.," 14 Aug. 2019 But there’s also a more specific question: What can be done about the fact that so many of these terrorists—in Pittsburgh, in Poway, in Christchurch, in El Paso—seem to find inspiration in the same online spaces? Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, "The El Paso Shooting and the Virality of Evil," 4 Aug. 2019 His approach has been an inspiration for Alex, and for others. Mark Orttung, Quartz at Work, "Why you should hire fewer geniuses," 30 July 2019 Morgan Hurd is such an inspiration for young American gymnasts — and anyone who wears eyeglasses and practices sports — that some have dressed up in leotards and her trademark glasses for Halloween. Luis Andres Henao, chicagotribune.com, "Morgan Hurd inspires other young gymnasts to wear eyeglasses," 28 July 2019 Shirley Elisabeth Moss stars as a famous horror writer, married to college professor Michael Stuhlbarg, who finds inspiration for her next book after a young couple — played by Odessa Young and Logan Lerman — move in with them. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, "Venice Film Fest: 20 Projects on the Short List," 15 July 2019

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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Statistics for inspiration

Last Updated

11 Oct 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 How to pronounce inspiration (audio) \

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- How to pronounce inspiration (audio) \

Medical Definition of inspiration

: the drawing of air into the lungs

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