in·​still in-ˈstil How to pronounce instill (audio)
instilled; instilling; instills

transitive verb

: to impart gradually
instilling a love of learning in children
: to cause to enter drop by drop
instill medication into the infected eye
instillation noun
instiller noun
instillment noun
Choose the Right Synonym for instill

implant, inculcate, instill, inseminate, infix mean to introduce into the mind.

implant implies teaching that makes for permanence of what is taught.

implanted a love of reading in her students

inculcate implies persistent or repeated efforts to impress on the mind.

tried to inculcate in him high moral standards

instill stresses gradual, gentle imparting of knowledge over a long period of time.

instill traditional values in your children

inseminate applies to a sowing of ideas in many minds so that they spread through a class or nation.

inseminated an unquestioning faith in technology

infix stresses firmly inculcating a habit of thought.

infixed a chronic cynicism

Examples of instill in a Sentence

a charismatic leader who instilled in his followers a passionate commitment to the cause
Recent Examples on the Web But despite his own success, LL Cool J instilled the importance of hard work in his four children and avoided spoiling them. Esther Kang, Peoplemag, 13 Feb. 2024 My mom instilled in us to strip the bed and make the new bed every Sunday. Katlyn Moncada, Better Homes & Gardens, 13 Feb. 2024 After all, as the landscape of workplaces continues to evolve, this balanced approach to instilling trust and ensuring accountability may very well become an increasingly indispensable facet of successful organizational cultures. Benjamin Laker, Forbes, 12 Feb. 2024 His adoring mother instilled in him an appreciation for classical art and music, while his father pressed him to embrace a role in the family business. Glenn Frankel, Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2024 That's one thing that was instilled in me, one place in life where there's no compromise. Lia Beck, Peoplemag, 30 Jan. 2024 Choose and learn one new language at a time, and enjoy personalized review sessions and Babbel's speech recognition technology to keep your knowledge instilled and perfect your accent. Stackcommerce Team, PCMAG, 26 Jan. 2024 North Korea has a record of strategically leveraging its military campaigns to win concessions from enemies, and incendiary rhetoric helps instill a sense of national unity, said Lee Ho-ryung, North Korean military expert at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul. Min Joo Kim, Washington Post, 19 Jan. 2024 Those home experiences, combined with some creative teachers, instilled a hunger for information in me that continues today. Letter Writers, Twin Cities, 14 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'instill.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Latin instillare, from in- + stillare to drip, from stilla drop

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of instill was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near instill

Cite this Entry

“Instill.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


in·​still in-ˈstil How to pronounce instill (audio)
: to gradually cause to feel or have
instill a love of music
instillation noun
instiller noun

Medical Definition


transitive verb
in·​still in-ˈstil How to pronounce instill (audio)
instilled; instilling
: to cause to enter especially drop by drop
instill medication into the infected eye

More from Merriam-Webster on instill

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!