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

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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

Our volunteering has also instilled a resourcefulness in my cooking, making me a more thoughtful and efficient home cook. Julia Turshen, Twin Cities, "How cooking for charity made me a better cook at home," 4 July 2019 Notwithstanding problems, the program has instilled in Nigerians a sense that education alone is not enough to build a healthy society. Shobana Shankar, Quartz Africa, "What the United States could learn from Nigeria about taking on anti-vaxxers," 7 June 2019 Those stark divides run counter to France’s attempts to instill a uniform sense of citizenship among its 65 million people, a core principle of the country. Time, "The Brutal Murder of a Holocaust Survivor Is Raising Anti-Semitism Fears in France," 29 Mar. 2018 Jay Judah said her sons credit him for instilling a lifelong work ethic in them. Hailey Branson-potts,, "After half a century, Rancho Palos Verdes bids bon voyage to the Admiral Risty restaurant," 3 July 2019 Nowadays, Aurand prepares for his final season as a defenseman for Davenport and credits hockey for instilling him with healthy confidence and self-esteem. David Haugh,, "How hockey helps a collegiate player cope with autism: ‘When I get out on the ice, I always have felt I could be my true authentic self'," 25 June 2019 After Danny’s father is declared Missing-In-Action in Korea, and posthumously awarded the Silver Star for bravery, Danny must draw on the bravery his father instilled in him., "Alabama author, veterans advocate releases first novel," 9 June 2019 The shocker, announced midway through this week’s exhibition, helped Boeing turn around a gloomy mood in Paris and instill confidence in the 737 Max, which has been grounded since March after two fatal crashes. Time, "Airbus Vows to Fight Boeing for a Massive Jet Order," 20 June 2019 Thomas and McCray helped show Logan the value of hard work and instill in him a love of sports, and the two helped raise Logan while his mother worked multiple jobs at a juvenile detention center, in real estate and as a mental health clinician. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "A father's love: Lions TE Logan Thomas endured tragedy to be a stronger dad," 16 June 2019

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

23 Jul 2019

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 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

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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).


something desired as essential

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