in·​still | \in-ˈstil \
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

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Other Words from instill

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

That philosophy and my consciousness of the world was instilled early on by my grandmother, who hitchhiked across the globe and met my grandfather in India in the late forties—a crazy thing for a young white woman to do at the time. Leila Janah, Glamour, "This Sustainable Moisturizer Laughs In the Face of 12-Hour Days," 17 Oct. 2018 But the values instilled by their caregiving experience will inspire and animate them nonetheless. Barry J. Jacobs,, "What to do when caregiving finally ends," 6 July 2018 At the same time, the musicianship she’s instilled in multiple generations of young people is extraordinary. Jessica Gelt,, "Anne Tomlinson on two decades leading the Los Angeles Children's Chorus," 27 June 2018 Their style is a type of play instilled in them by the nature of soccer in the banlieues: small-sided games, with a mix of ages, in the small space of a concrete ball court. New York Times, "World Cup 2018: The Boys From the Banlieues," 7 June 2018 It was instilled in him at a young age during trips to West Side Market with his grandfather - now 100 - who would make sauerkraut at home. Marc Bona,, "Chef Michael Symon advises restaurant expo crowd on flavorful, healthy eating (video)," 29 Jan. 2018 The whole idea of this is to instill confidence in voters and the public that the system is secure,’’ Wyman said in an interview. Geoff Mulvihill,, "No signs Russia targeting elections like 2016, US official says," 14 July 2018 Steering and handling stay true to the road and driver input, instilling a Porsche-like cornering confidence in a four-door compact. Robert Duffer,, "2018 Subaru WRX STi Type RA boggles the mind as most expensive Subaru," 30 May 2018 Clayton Richard, at Dodgers (FD: $7,100, DK: $6,400) Richard’s 4.87 ERA and 1.39 WHIP don’t exactly instill confidence. Mike Barner,, "MLB DFS Plays for May 25," 25 May 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.

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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

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Statistics for instill

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for instill

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

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More Definitions for instill



English Language Learners Definition of instill

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


in·​still | \in-ˈstil \
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 \
instilled; instilling

Medical Definition of instill 

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

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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).


by force of circumstances

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