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[in-hib-it] /ɪnˈhɪb ɪt/
verb (used with object)
to restrain, hinder, arrest, or check (an action, impulse, etc.).
to prohibit; forbid.
Psychology. to consciously or unconsciously suppress or restrain (psychologically or sociologically unacceptable behavior).
Chemistry. to decrease the rate of action of or stop (a chemical reaction).
Origin of inhibit
late Middle English
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 forms
inhibitable, adjective
[in-hib-i-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ɪnˈhɪb ɪˈtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/ (Show IPA),
inhibitive, adjective
interinhibitive, adjective
noninhibitive, adjective
noninhibitory, adjective
overinhibit, verb (used with object)
subinhibitory, adjective
uninhibiting, adjective
1. repress, discourage, obstruct. 2. interdict. See forbid. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for inhibitory
Historical Examples
  • Probably the inhibitory influence here is anticipation of bad consequences.

    Psychology Robert S. Woodworth
  • While the vagus is inhibitory to the heart it is motor to the lungs.

    Philosophy of Osteopathy Andrew T. Still
  • In such cases the preventive (inhibitory) influence of certain ingoing impulses is but too obvious.

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

    Psychotherapy James J. Walsh
  • In tachycardia there is an irritation of the accelerator nerves to the heart, in brachycardia of the inhibitory nerves.

    Psychotherapy James J. Walsh
  • Sometimes the pain seems to act as an inhibitory agent on the heart.

    Psychotherapy James J. Walsh
  • Both the heart and the arteries are controlled by excitory and inhibitory nerves.

  • In health this inhibitory influence is protective and sustaining.

    A Practical Physiology Albert F. Blaisdell
  • Your every action is the net result of selection among a number of impulses and inhibitory forces or tendencies.

  • In the intellectual life the inhibitory effect seems far the commoner of the two.

    The Psychology of Arithmetic Edward L. Thorndike
British Dictionary definitions for inhibitory


verb (transitive) -its, -iting, -ited
to restrain or hinder (an impulse, a desire, etc)
to prohibit; forbid
to stop, prevent, or decrease the rate of (a chemical reaction)
  1. to prevent the occurrence of (a particular signal) in a circuit
  2. to prevent the performance of (a particular operation)
Derived Forms
inhibitable, adjective
inhibitive, 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
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Word Origin and History for inhibitory

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



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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inhibitory in Medicine

inhibit in·hib·it (ĭn-hĭb'ĭt)
v. in·hib·it·ed, in·hib·it·ing, in·hib·its

  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.

in·hib'i·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.
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