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

Definition of instill

transitive verb

1 : to cause to enter drop by drop instill medication into the infected eye
2 : to impart gradually instilling a love of learning in children

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from instill

instillation \ ˌin(t)-​stə-​ˈlā-​shən How to pronounce instillation (audio) , -​(ˌ)sti-​ \ noun
instiller \ in-​ˈsti-​lər How to pronounce instiller (audio) \ noun
instillment \ in-​ˈstil-​mənt How to pronounce instillment (audio) \ 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

Growing up, public service was instilled in the Begich kids. Becky Bohrer, The Seattle Times, "Democrat Begich turns to AK voters 1 more time in guv race," 22 Oct. 2018 Which perhaps explains why such qualities are not only instilled in Hallgrimsson's psyche, but also those of his players. James Masters, CNN, "'It's in blood, the nature and the culture.' Iceland's hard World Cup work pays off," 15 June 2018 The value of work was always instilled in the teenager. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "Gretchen Whitmer fights for recognition in race for Michigan governor," 24 May 2018 But the facility administrators would not have been instilled with the false hope that help was on the way. Orlando Sentinel,, "Nursing home calls to Scott after Irma might have fostered false hope," 12 Jan. 2018 Markets continued to fall after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tried to instill calm following a bruising week. Jessica Menton, WSJ, "Dow Industrials Leap More Than 1,000 Points," 26 Dec. 2018 Lesson 5: anecdotes that instill fear of outsiders are much, much stickier than facts and figures Our brains are built to be vigilant. Brian Resnick, Vox, "8 lessons from psychology that explain Trump’s caravan fearmongering," 2 Nov. 2018 However, Daugaard said, the contract’s framework undermines the intentions of the consent decree and its overall goal of instilling public confidence. Steve Miletich, The Seattle Times, "Federal judge questions whether Seattle police-union contract in keeping with ‘spirit’ of reforms," 5 Nov. 2018 The Lebanese government has criticized the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which provides services for refugees in informal settlements in Lebanon, for instilling fear in the refugees of returning to Syria. Sune Engel Rasmussen, WSJ, "Refugees Become Pawns in Syria’s Bid for Foreign Aid," 27 July 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of instill

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for instill

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about instill

Statistics for instill

Last Updated

19 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for instill

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for instill



English Language Learners Definition of instill

: to gradually cause someone to have (an attitude, feeling, etc.)


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

Kids Definition of instill

: to put into the mind little by little Patience with the ways of nature had been instilled in her by her father.— Jean Craighead George, Julie of the Wolves


transitive verb
in·​still | \ in-ˈstil How to pronounce instill (audio) \
instilled; instilling

Medical Definition of instill

: to cause to enter especially drop by drop instill medication into the infected eye

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on instill

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with instill

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for instill

Spanish Central: Translation of instill

Nglish: Translation of instill for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of instill for Arabic Speakers

Comments on instill

What made you want to look up instill? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to corrupt or become corrupted

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Green Quiz

  • shamrock
  • What is the best definition of green-eyed monster?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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