Definition of inhibition in US English:



  • 1A feeling that makes one self-conscious and unable to act in a relaxed and natural way.

    ‘the children, at first shy, soon lost their inhibitions’
    ‘a powerful tranquilizer that causes lack of inhibition’
    • ‘I sense in Monica's response a surprising inhibition, a lack of confidence that a true union is possible.’
    • ‘The inhibitions disappear and the red face is a result of happy exertion rather than excruciating bashfulness.’
    • ‘I remember being a little shy about bathing outside naked but then my inhibitions would disappear at the sheer joy of feeling that soft warm water on my hot skin.’
    • ‘With love, there should be no reservations, no inhibitions when making love to the person who undoubtedly has your heart.’
    • ‘It was still not strong enough to allow him to overcome his inhibitions and his fears.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, lost inhibitions don't just spell meaningful heart-to-hearts: they spell plenty of bad behaviour, too.’
    • ‘It was good seeing some friends lose their inhibitions and dance like there was no tomorrow.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, people have a lot of inhibitions and fears about going to a doctor.’
    • ‘Both the sexes move so closely that inhibitions and hesitations are a thing of the past now.’
    • ‘Their program aims to help couples confront their inhibitions and feelings of anger, anxiety or shame through developing the behaviors and emotions needed for healthy reconnection.’
    • ‘I give myself away through my music, my true feelings, shedding all inhibitions.’
    • ‘‘We can't control everything,’ he said referring to the lack of inhibitions and judgment drunk drivers exhibit.’
    • ‘And what with alcohol removing your natural inhibitions, I… did some things that I shouldn't have.’
    • ‘The idea is to rise above everything, shed all the inhibitions and fears, and be part of the Games.’
    • ‘Once the Soviet Union collapsed, the fear and inhibitions mostly disappeared, but the psychological need to confront ‘evil’ states remained.’
    • ‘The first of its kind, this ongoing workshop is only aimed to help kids from lower-income groups abandon their inhibitions and build their confidence.’
    • ‘A good alternative is vacation class - martial arts, music, dance - which colours a child's life, enhancing confidence and wiping away diffidence and inhibitions.’
    • ‘Ecstasy reduced, not to say obliterated, social inhibitions.’
    • ‘Listening to the Orange Sky that night, I let go - of inhibitions, of anxieties - if only for the duration of the music.’
    • ‘Anxieties and inhibitions tend to dissolve into a feeling of emotional warmth, wellbeing and pleasant drowsiness.’
    shyness, reticence, self-consciousness, reserve, diffidence, bashfulness, coyness, embarrassment, unease, wariness, reluctance, discomfort, hesitance, hesitancy, apprehension, nerves, nervousness, insecurity
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Psychology A voluntary or involuntary restraint on the direct expression of an instinct.
      • ‘An imbalance of excitation and inhibition may underlie several neurological diseases, including autism, Tourette's syndrome and schizophrenia.’
      • ‘The moral that Freud drew from this reasoning was that the inhibition of natural emotional expressions could lead to dangerous consequences.’
      • ‘Further, it lowers inhibitions, spurring individuals who are inclined towards sexually abusive or deviant behaviors to act on their fantasies.’
      • ‘But Freud also acknowledged that purely external factors, rather than internal inhibitions, might prevent the direct expression of such impulses.’
      • ‘She then builds up a secondary inhibition to sexual arousal in order to avoid the frustration accompanying an unsatisfying sexual experience.’
    2. 1.2 The action of inhibiting, restricting, or hindering a process.
      • ‘The effect of the subpoena did not result in an unconstitutional inhibition of religion.’
      • ‘Even if short-term inhibition of GDP growth is on occasions necessary, growth foregone is nevertheless the very essence of social misfortune.’
      • ‘There is no reason to think other large single-currency areas, such as China, pay any smaller cost in terms of overall GDP inhibition and regional disparity.’
      • ‘It may involve simultaneous activation of some belief representations and inhibition of others.’
      • ‘This process can lead to the addition or inhibition of cellular function.’
      • ‘The main characteristic of whole body withdrawal is complete inhibition of swimming.’
      hindrance, hampering, holding back, discouragement, obstruction, impediment, retardation
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 The slowing or prevention of a process, reaction, or function by a particular substance.
      • ‘Similar calmodulin-mediated phosphorylations lead to inhibition of glycogen synthase.’
      • ‘Gamma-tocopherol partially protects insulin-secreting cells against functional inhibition by nitric oxide.’
      • ‘The alternative possibility, that the kinetic complexity of Mg-G-actin digestions arises from trypsin inhibition in these reactions, has been tested in two ways.’
      • ‘Flavonoids have diverse toxic effects including disruption of cellular respiration, inhibition of enzyme function, and interference with reproduction.’
      • ‘With respect to this subject, the reported DNA damage and inhibition of DNA repair functions by photooxidative reactions is an interesting aspect.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘forbidding, a prohibition’): from Latin inhibitio(n-), from the verb inhibere (see inhibit).