[ proh-hib-it ]
/ proʊˈhɪb ɪt /
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See synonyms for: prohibit / prohibited / prohibiting on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
to forbid (an action, activity, etc.) by authority or law:Smoking is prohibited here.
to forbid the action of (a person).
to prevent; hinder.
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Origin of prohibit

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English, from Latin prohibitus, past participle of prohibēre “to hold before, hold back, hinder, forbid,” equivalent to pro- pro-1 + -hibēre, combining form of habēre “to have, hold”; see habit1

synonym study for prohibit

1. See forbid.


pro·hib·it·er, pro·hib·i·tor, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What’s the difference between prohibit and inhibit?

Prohibit most commonly means to forbid or disallow, but it can also mean what inhibit usually means—to prevent or hinder. Inhibit can also mean to forbid, but this use is much less common.

Prohibit is most commonly used in the context of rules, especially official ones like laws. The speed limit prohibits you from going above a certain speed. Parents might prohibit their kids from eating candy before dinner, but the word forbid is more commonly used in cases like this.

Inhibit, on the other hand, is usually used in the context of things that prevent or hinder what someone is trying to do. Speed bumps are designed to inhibit speeding. A leg injury can inhibit your ability to walk.

The meaning of prohibit and inhibit most often overlaps in cases when something is inhibited to the point of almost not being able to happen at all, as in This cast is designed to prohibit movement (prohibit could be replaced with inhibit in this sentence without much or any change in meaning).

The adjective form inhibited is often used to indicate that someone or something is held back from full potential. When it’s applied to a person, it usually involves a mental, emotional, or psychological block, as in I feel less inhibited around my new group of friends—they accept me for who I am.

The adjective prohibited describes something that’s forbidden, as in The sign lists all of the prohibited activities. 

Here’s an example of prohibit and inhibit used correctly in the same sentence.

Example: To inhibit the acceleration of climate change, we must prohibit any increase in fossil fuel emissions. 

Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between inhibit and prohibit.

Quiz yourself on prohibit vs. inhibit!

Should prohibit or inhibit be used in the following sentence?

The school board adopted a new rule to _____ smoking anywhere on school grounds.

How to use prohibit in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for prohibit

/ (prəˈhɪbɪt) /

verb (tr)
to forbid by law or other authority
to hinder or prevent

Derived forms of prohibit

prohibiter or prohibitor, noun

Word Origin for prohibit

C15: from Latin prohibēre to prevent, from pro- 1 + habēre to hold
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