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[proh-uh-bish-uh n] /ˌproʊ əˈbɪʃ ən/
the act of prohibiting.
the legal prohibiting of the manufacture and sale of alcoholic drinks for common consumption.
(often initial capital letter) the period (1920–33) when the Eighteenth Amendment was in force and alcoholic beverages could not legally be manufactured, transported, or sold in the U.S.
a law or decree that forbids.
1275-1325; Middle English < Latin prohibitiōn- (stem of prohibitiō). See prohibit, -ion
Related forms
prohibitionary, adjective
antiprohibition, adjective, noun
nonprohibition, noun
preprohibition, noun
4. interdiction. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for prohibitions
  • These prohibitions and quite a few more turn out to be imaginary monsters under the bed.
  • prohibitions against hunting and attention to protection and food supply in winter feeding grounds have aided the surge.
  • In the form of the various prohibitions of owning dangerous and exotic pets.
  • Since then, there has been a gradual relaxation of the old curfews, dress codes and other social prohibitions.
  • Every major religion in the world has prohibitions against gambling.
  • It feels no need to be clear about its prohibitions.
  • When they specify prohibitions, you can't ever act that way.
  • But as the old prohibitions fall away, a new one is rising to take their place.
  • Designer bags may make such taxes and prohibitions more palatable.
  • Neither of these prohibitions seems sufficiently long, and neither has sufficient teeth.
British Dictionary definitions for prohibitions


the act of prohibiting or state of being prohibited
an order or decree that prohibits
(sometimes capital) (esp in the US) a policy of legally forbidding the manufacture, transportation, sale, or consumption of alcoholic beverages except for medicinal or scientific purposes
(law) an order of a superior court (in Britain the High Court) forbidding an inferior court to determine a matter outside its jurisdiction
Derived Forms
prohibitionary, adjective


the period (1920–33) when the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquors was banned by constitutional amendment in the US
Derived Forms
Prohibitionist, noun
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 prohibitions



late 14c., "act of prohibiting, a forbidding by authority," from Anglo-French and Old French prohibition (early 13c.), from Latin prohibitionem (nominative prohibitio) "a hindering, forbidding; legal prohibition," noun of action from past participle stem of prohibere "hold back, restrain, hinder, prevent," from pro- "away, forth" (see pro-) + habere "to hold" (see habit). Meaning "forced alcohol abstinence" is 1851, American English; in effect nationwide in U.S. as law 1920-1933 under the Volstead Act.

People whose youth did not coincide with the twenties never had our reverence for strong drink. Older men knew liquor before it became the symbol of a sacred cause. Kids who began drinking after 1933 take it as a matter of course. ... Drinking, we proved to ourselves our freedom as individuals and flouted Congress. We conformed to a popular type of dissent -- dissent from a minority. It was the only period during which a fellow could be smug and slopped concurrently. [A.J. Liebling, "Between Meals," 1959]
Related: Prohibitionist.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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prohibitions in Culture
Prohibition [(proh-uh-bish-uhn)]

The outlawing of alcoholic beverages nationwide from 1920 to 1933, under an amendment to the Constitution. The amendment, enforced by the Volstead Act, was repealed by another amendment to the Constitution in 1933.

Note: Prohibition is often mentioned in discussions of how much social change can be brought about through law, because alcohol was widely, though illegally, produced and sold during Prohibition; it was served privately in the White House under President Warren Harding, for example.
Note: Many use the example of Prohibition to argue that more harm than good comes from the enactment of laws that are sure to be widely disobeyed.
Note: Some states and localities (called “dry”) had outlawed the production and sale of alcohol before the Prohibition amendment was adopted. The repealing amendment allowed individual states and localities to remain “dry,” and some did for many years.
The American Heritage® 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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