• IPA: /ɪnspɨˈɹeɪʃən/


  1. (physiology, uncountable) The drawing of air into the lungs, accomplished in mammals by elevation of the chest walls and flattening of the diaphragm, as part of the act of respiration.
  2. (countable) A breath, a single inhalation.
  3. A supernatural divine influence on the prophets, apostles, or sacred writers, by which they were qualified to communicate moral or religious truth with authority; a supernatural influence which qualifies people to receive and communicate divine truth; also, the truth communicated.
    • 1688, Jacques Bénigne Bossuet, The History of the Variations of the Protestant Churches ↗ Vol.2 (1829 translation), p. 355:
      The question, therefore, at issue is, not whether those external means be sufficient without grace and divine inspiration, for none pretends that": but, in order to hinder men from feigning or imagining an inspiration, whether it has not been God's economy, and his usual conduct to make his inspiration walk hand in hand with certain means of fact, which men can neither feign in the air without being convicted of falsehood, nor imagine without illusion.
    • 1971, Peter Brown, The World of Late Antiquity: AD 150—750, Thames & Hudson LTD (2013 reprint), ISBN 0393958035, page 54.
      The more strongly people felt about their ideas, the more potent the demons seemed to them: Christians believed that traditional paganism, far from being the work of men, was an 'opium of the masses', pumped into the human race by the non-human demons; and one scholar even ascribed bad reviews of his book to demonic inspiration!
  4. The act of an elevating or stimulating influence upon the intellect, emotions or creativity.
    Usage notes: In this sense, it may be followed by the adposition to in relation to the person being influenced, and for or to in relation to the idea or activity:
    • She was waiting for inspiration to write a book.
    • 1865, George Duffield, The Nation's Wail ↗, p. 6:
      We caught the inspiration of his joy; and imagination painted a glorious future near at hand for our land, quickly to develop itself under the guidance of his fostering wisdom, and fraternal counsels and care.
    • 1998, David Allen Brown, Leonardo da Vinci: Origins of a Genius ↗, p. 25:
      All this suggests that Andrea may, like the authors of the devotional panel, the fresco, and the print – and like Leonardo, as we shall see – have found his inspiration in Pollaiuolo.
    • 2002, Sven Rasegård, Man and Science: A Web of Systems and Social Conventions, p. 2:
      And now it is time for problem solving which, if successful, will create new ideas serving as an inspiration source for future research objects of the researcher in question as well as other researchers within the same field.
    • 2013, Phil McNulty, "Liverpool 1-0 Man Utd ↗", BBC Sport, 1 September 2013:
      As for United, this was a performance lacking in inspiration, purpose and threat and once again underlined the urgency for transfer business to be done in the closing hours of the transfer window.
  5. A person, object, or situation which quickens or stimulates an influence upon the intellect, emotions or creativity.
    • The trip was an inspiration to her for writing a book.
    • 2008 April 5, George W. Bush, Presidential Radio Address ↗:
      The people of Ukraine and Georgia are an inspiration to the world, and I was pleased that this week NATO declared that Ukraine and Georgia will become members of NATO.
  6. A new idea, especially one which arises suddenly and is clever or creative.
    • 1895, H. G. Wells, The Time Machine, ch. 1:
      After an interval the Psychologist had an inspiration. "It must have gone into the past if it has gone anywhere," he said.
    • 1916, Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton, Mrs. Balfame, ch. 15:
      Mrs. Balfame had an inspiration. "My God!" she exclaimed, springing to her feet, "the murderer . . . was hidden in the cellar or attic all night, all the next day! He may be here yet!"
    • 2007 July 1, Sylviane Gold, "Scenery Chewer Plays It Straight, Methodically ↗," New York Times (retrieved 3 Sept. 2013):
      [H]e accompanied her to a rehearsal of a skit satirizing “Casablanca,” and the director had an inspiration: Wouldn’t it be a laugh to cast a 10-year-old as Rick?
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