Aspire vs inspire

Photo of author


Aspire and inspire are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation, but have very different meanings. They are often confused. We will examine the definitions of aspire and inspire, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Aspire means to hope that one will achieve a certain thing, to attempt to achieve a certain thing, to have the will and the drive to achieve a certain thing. For instance, a student who has a strong desire to learn English may be said to aspire to learn English. Synonyms of the word aspire that may be found in a thesaurus are strive, dream, desire, pursue. The word aspire is derived from the Latin word aspirare which may mean to try to obtain or to climb up. Related words are aspires, aspired, aspiring, aspiration, aspirational.

Inspire means to arouse a need in someone to do something, to instill the feeling in someone that they want to attain something or are capable of attaining something. Inspire may mean that something has occurred because of someone else’s urging or example. For example, the musical Cats was inspired by a collection of poems by T. S. Eliot, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Synonyms of the word inspire that may be found in a thesaurus are arouse, animate, embolden, encourage, excite. The word inspire is derived from the Latin word inspirare which may mean to excite or inflame. Related words are inspires, inspired, inspiring, inspiration, inspirational.


They’re the fodder for my mood boards, the sexual goddesses who helm more power than I can could even aspire to. (Glamour Magazine)

So that means the new Democrats face an interesting challenge: They realize they were sent here to signal that they get the urgency of the moment, and that they aspire to rebuild the institutions necessary to meet the challenges we face. (The Washington Post)

The Western New York Catholic article noted that Monsignor Slubecky aspired to be a priest when he was a boy attending St. John the Baptist School in Alden and would pretend to celebrate Mass with his siblings, giving them Necco wafers for Communion. (The Buffalo News)

Minnesota author channels Rosie the Riveter to inspire kids with Somali refugee story (The Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

The panel and networking event is open to the Tucson community, high school students and the UA community and is designed to inspire women in their pursuit of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) career.  (The Arizona Daily Star)

Under the theme “My Church, My Home, My Mission,” participants were trained, encouraged, and inspired to keep making their best efforts on behalf of the young people in Europe. (The Adventist Review)