inhibit

When you inhibit something, you block it or hold it back. If you put plants in a dark room, you inhibit their growth. A teacher who mocks their students for giving wrong answers inhibits their willingness to speak up in class.

When you look at the word inhibit, think hinder. Though it sounds like it might be a bad thing to inhibit something else, there is no judgment built into the word. A drug that inhibits the growth of cancer cells would generally be considered a very good thing. While you may wish cancer cells to be inhibited, you probably don't wish it upon your friend's sense of humor or your country's economic growth.

Definitions of inhibit
  1. verb
    limit the range or extent of
    “Contact between the young was inhibited by strict social customs”
    synonyms: constrict
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    type of:
    bound, confine, limit, restrain, restrict, throttle, trammel
    place limits on (extent or access)
  2. verb
    limit, block, or decrease the action or function of
    inhibit the action of the enzyme”
    inhibit the rate of a chemical reaction”
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    type of:
    hinder, impede
    be a hindrance or obstacle to
  3. verb
    put down by force or authority
    synonyms: conquer, curb, stamp down, subdue, suppress
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    types:
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    blink, blink away, wink
    force to go away by blinking
    dampen, stifle
    smother or suppress
    choke back, choke down, choke off
    suppress
    hush, hush up, quieten, shut up, silence, still
    cause to be quiet or not talk
    burke
    get rid of, silence, or suppress
    silence
    keep from expression, for example by threats or pressure
    quell, quench, squelch
    suppress or crush completely
    muffle, repress, smother, stifle, strangle
    conceal or hide
    shush
    silence (someone) by uttering 'shush!'
    choke, suffocate
    suppress the development, creativity, or imagination of
    calm down, lull
    become quiet or less intensive
    shout down
    silence or overwhelm by shouting
    gag, muzzle
    prevent from speaking out
    type of:
    check, contain, control, curb, hold, hold in, moderate
    lessen the intensity of; temper; hold in restraint; hold or keep within limits
  4. verb
    control and refrain from showing; of emotions, desires, impulses, or behavior
    synonyms: bottle up, suppress
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    types:
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    hold back, keep, keep back, restrain
    keep under control; keep in check
    quench
    electronics: suppress (sparking) when the current is cut off in an inductive circuit, or suppress (an oscillation or discharge) in a component or device
    choke
    check or slow down the action or effect of
    hold
    keep from exhaling or expelling
    confine
    prevent from leaving or from being removed
    bottle up, suppress
    control and refrain from showing; of emotions, desires, impulses, or behavior
    check, contain, control, curb, hold, hold in, moderate
    lessen the intensity of; temper; hold in restraint; hold or keep within limits
    type of:
    hold back, keep, keep back, restrain
    keep under control; keep in check
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