When you force an undesirable or harmful event on someone, you inflict it on them. You might prefer that someone inflict some physical pain on you rather than inflict you with the boredom of another trip to the annual flower show.

The verb inflict comes from the Latin word inflictus, meaning “to strike or dash against.” If you cause anything bad to happen to a person, animal, or even an object, you inflict that badness on them. For example, someone can inflict injuries or suffering on other people or inflict damage on property. We can inflict pollution or over-development on our environment. It's always a negative thing — you wouldn't say you inflict happiness or love on others.

Definitions of inflict
  1. verb
    impose something unpleasant
    synonyms: bring down, impose, visit
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    dictate, order, prescribe
    issue commands or orders for
    intrude, obtrude
    thrust oneself in as if by force
    impose or inflict forcefully
    inflict as a punishment
    to force onto another
    make mandatory
    type of:
    communicate, intercommunicate
    transmit thoughts or feelings
Commonly confused words

afflict / inflict

Both afflict and inflict cause pain, but afflict means to cause suffering or unhappiness, something a disease does, but inflict means to force pain or suffering, like if you smack someone upside the head.

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