• synonyms


verb (used with object)
  1. to restrain, hinder, arrest, or check (an action, impulse, etc.).
  2. to prohibit; forbid.
  3. Psychology. to consciously or unconsciously suppress or restrain (psychologically or sociologically unacceptable behavior).
  4. Chemistry. to decrease the rate of action of or stop (a chemical reaction).
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Origin of inhibit

1425–75; late Middle English inhibiten < Latin inhibitus, past participle of inhibēre to restrain, equivalent to in- in-2 + -hibēre, combining form of habēre to have, hold
Related formsin·hib·it·a·ble, adjectivein·hib·i·to·ry [in-hib-i-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ɪnˈhɪb ɪˈtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/, in·hib·i·tive, adjectivein·ter·in·hib·i·tive, adjectivenon·in·hib·i·tive, adjectivenon·in·hib·i·to·ry, adjectiveo·ver·in·hib·it, verb (used with object)sub·in·hib·i·to·ry, adjectiveun·in·hib·it·ing, adjective


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for inhibitory

Historical Examples

  • While the vagus is inhibitory to the heart it is motor to the lungs.

    Philosophy of Osteopathy

    Andrew T. Still

  • Nor is the inhibitory value of attention or distraction any less ephemeral.

  • Nor must it be thought that the inhibitory faculty can act only in slowing the heart.


    James J. Walsh

  • Sometimes the pain seems to act as an inhibitory agent on the heart.


    James J. Walsh

  • In health this inhibitory influence is protective and sustaining.

    A Practical Physiology

    Albert F. Blaisdell

British Dictionary definitions for inhibitory


verb -its, -iting or -ited (tr)
  1. to restrain or hinder (an impulse, a desire, etc)
  2. to prohibit; forbid
  3. to stop, prevent, or decrease the rate of (a chemical reaction)
  4. electronics
    1. to prevent the occurrence of (a particular signal) in a circuit
    2. to prevent the performance of (a particular operation)
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Derived Formsinhibitable, adjectiveinhibitive or inhibitory, adjective

Word Origin

C15: from Latin inhibēre to restrain, from in- ² + habēre to have
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

Word Origin and History for inhibitory


late 15c., from Medieval Latin inhibitorius, from past participle stem of Latin inhibere (see inhibition).

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early 15c., "to forbid, prohibit," back-formation from inhibition or else from Latin inhibitus, past participle of inhibere "to hold in, hold back, keep back" (see inhibition). Psychological sense (1876) is from earlier, softened meaning of "restrain, check, hinder" (1530s). Related: Inhibited; inhibiting.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

inhibitory in Medicine


  1. To hold back; restrain.
  2. To suppress or restrain a behavioral process, an impulse, or a desire consciously or unconsciously.
  3. To prevent or decrease the rate of a chemical reaction.
  4. To decrease, limit, or block the action or function of something in the body, as an enzyme or organ.
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Related formsin•hibi•to′ry (-tôr′ē) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.