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[in-i-bish-uh n, in-hi-] /ˌɪn ɪˈbɪʃ ən, ˌɪn hɪ-/
the act of inhibiting.
the state of being inhibited.
something that inhibits; constraint.
  1. the blocking or holding back of one psychological process by another.
  2. inappropriate conscious or unconscious restraint or suppression of behavior, as sexual behavior, often due to guilt or fear produced by past punishment, or sometimes considered a dispositional trait.
  1. a restraining, arresting, or checking of the action of an organ or cell.
  2. the reduction of a reflex or other activity as the result of an antagonistic stimulation.
  3. a state created at synapses making them less excitable by other sources of stimulation.
Chemistry. a stoppage or decrease in the rate of action of a chemical reaction.
English Ecclesiastical Law. an order, especially from a bishop, suspending a priest or an incumbent from the performance of duties.
Origin of inhibition
1350-1400; Middle English inhibicio(u)n < Latin inhibitiōn- (stem of inhibitiō). See inhibit, -ion
Related forms
interinhibition, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for inhibitions
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They stand for inhibitions which are expressed in feelings that are wholly unproductive.

    The Psychology of Nations G.E. Partridge
  • Then all the tensions and inhibitions of civilized society disappear.

    The Psychology of Nations G.E. Partridge
  • If he opened his eyes it would be, for a little while at least, with his inhibitions suspended.

    The Dust Flower Basil King
  • She is good, and she has power; but thats in part, I feel, because she has no inhibitions—no doubts.

    Adrienne Toner Anne Douglas Sedgwick
  • She can more understandingly separate him from his inhibitions and his dollars.

    Bizarre Lawton Mackall
  • In the stage of his mind came a black-out upon a host of inhibitions.

    The Bright Messenger Algernon Blackwood
British Dictionary definitions for inhibitions


/ˌɪnɪˈbɪʃən; ˌɪnhɪ-/
the act of inhibiting or the condition of being inhibited
  1. a mental state or condition in which the varieties of expression and behaviour of an individual become restricted
  2. the weakening of a learned response usually as a result of extinction or because of the presence of a distracting stimulus
  3. (in psychoanalytical theory) the unconscious restraining of an impulse See also repression
the process of stopping or retarding a chemical reaction
(physiol) the suppression of the function or action of an organ or part, as by stimulation of its nerve supply
(Church of England) an episcopal order suspending an incumbent
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for inhibitions



late 14c., "formal prohibition; interdiction of legal proceedings by authority;" also, the document setting forth such a prohibition, from Old French inibicion and directly from Latin inhibitionem (nominative inhibitio) "a restraining," from past participle stem of inhibere "to hold in, hold back, keep back," from in- "in, on" (see in- (2)) + habere "to hold" (see habit). Psychological sense of "involuntary check on an expression of an impulse" is from 1876.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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inhibitions in Medicine

inhibition in·hi·bi·tion (ĭn'hə-bĭsh'ən, ĭn'ə-)

  1. The act of inhibiting or the state of being inhibited.

  2. Something that restrains, blocks, or suppresses.

  3. The conscious or unconscious restraint of a behavioral process, a desire, or an impulse.

  4. Any of a variety of processes that are associated with the gradual attenuation, masking, and extinction of a previously conditioned response.

  5. The condition in which or the process by which a reaction is inhibited.

  6. The condition in which or the process by which an enzyme is inhibited.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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inhibitions in Science
The blocking or limiting of the activity of an organ, tissue, or cell of the body, caused by the action of a nerve or neuron or by the release of a substance such as a hormone or neurotransmitter. Compare excitation.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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inhibitions in Culture

inhibition definition

A personal hindrance to activity or expression. For example, fear of contracting cancer might serve as an inhibition against smoking.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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