v. in·spired, in·spir·ing, in·spires
1. To affect, guide, or arouse by divine influence.
2. To fill with enlivening or exalting emotion: hymns that inspire the congregation; an artist who was inspired by Impressionism.
a. To stimulate to action; motivate: a sales force that was inspired by the prospect of a bonus. See Synonyms at encourage.
b. To cause (someone) to have a particular feeling; affect or touch: "At this moment he inspired her with disgust rather than with love" (Anthony Trollope).
4. To cause someone to have (a feeling or reaction); elicit or arouse: a teacher who inspired admiration and respect.
5. To be the cause or source of; bring about: an invention that inspired many imitations.
6. To draw in (air) by inhaling.
a. To breathe on.
b. To breathe life into.
1. To stimulate energies, ideals, or reverence: a leader who inspires by example.
2. To inhale.
[Middle English enspiren, from Old French enspirer, from Latin īnspīrāre : in-, into; see IN-2 + spīrāre, to breathe.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.