verb in·spire \ in-ˈspī(-ə)r \
Updated on: 19 Feb 2018

Definition of inspire

inspired; inspiring
transitive verb
1 a : to influence, move, or guide by divine or supernatural inspiration
b : to exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence on
  • was particularly inspired by the Romanticists
c : to spur on : impel, motivate
  • threats don't necessarily inspire people to work
d : affect
  • seeing the old room again inspired him with nostalgia
2 a archaic : to breathe or blow into or upon
b archaic : to infuse (something, such as life) by breathing
  • inspired into him an active soul …
  • —Wisdom of Solomon 15:11
3 a : to communicate to an agent supernaturally
b : to draw forth or bring out
  • thoughts inspired by a visit to the cathedral
4 : inhale 1
5 a : bring about, occasion
  • the book was inspired by his travels in the Far East
b : incite
6 : to spread (rumor) by indirect means or through the agency of another
intransitive verb
: inhale



Examples of inspire in a Sentence

  1. He inspired generations of future scientists.

  2. Her courage has inspired us.

  3. His discoveries inspired a whole new line of scientific research.

  4. Her first novel was inspired by her early childhood.

  5. The news inspired hope that the war might end soon.

Recent Examples of inspire from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inspire.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of inspire

Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French inspirer, from Latin inspirare, from in- + spirare to breathe

INSPIRE Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of inspire for English Language Learners

  • : to make (someone) want to do something : to give (someone) an idea about what to do or create

  • : to cause (something) to happen or be created

  • : to cause someone to have (a feeling or emotion)

INSPIRE Defined for Kids


verb in·spire \ in-ˈspīr \

Definition of inspire for Students

inspired; inspiring
1 : to move or guide by divine influence
2 : to move (someone) to act, create, or feel emotions : arouse
  • The Senator's comments inspired me to write a letter.
3 : to cause something to occur or to be created or done
  • It was a people's movement, inspired by the courageous acts of ordinary citizens …
  • —Christopher Paul Curtis, The Watsons

Medical Dictionary


verb in·spire \ in-ˈspī(ə)r \

medical Definition of inspire

inspired; inspiring
transitive verb
: to draw in by breathing : breathe in : inhale
  • the volume of air inspired
intransitive verb
: to draw in breath : inhale air into the lungs

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