Etymology
Advertisement
inspiration (n.)
Origin and meaning of inspiration

c. 1300, "immediate influence of God or a god," especially that under which the holy books were written, from Old French inspiracion "inhaling, breathing in; inspiration" (13c.), from Late Latin inspirationem (nominative inspiratio), noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin inspirare "blow into, breathe upon," figuratively "inspire, excite, inflame," from in- "in" (from PIE root *en "in") + spirare "to breathe" (see spirit (n.)). ,

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. [Genesis ii.7]

The sense evolution seems to be from "breathe into" to "infuse animation or influence," thus "affect, rouse, guide or control," especially by divine influence. Inspire (v.) in Middle English also was used to mean "breath or put life or spirit into the human body; impart reason to a human soul." Literal sense "act of inhaling" attested in English from 1560s. Meaning "one who inspires others" is attested by 1867.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
inspirational (adj.)
"tending to inspire," 1878; see inspiration + -al (1). Also "influenced by inspiration" (1839); "pertaining to inspiration" (1888). The adjective was used earlier in spiritualism. Earlier in the sense "tending to inspire" were inspirative (1770), inspiring (1640s).
Related entries & more 
invita Minerva 
Latin adverbial phrase, used with reference to literary or artistic creation, "without inspiration," literally "Minerva unwilling;" i.e. "without inspiration from the goddess of wisdom;" ablative fem. of invitus "against the will, unwilling, reluctant," according to de Vaan from PIE compound *n-uih-to- "not turned to, not pursuing," related to the source of invitation. With Minervā, ablative absolute of Minerva.
Related entries & more 
geist (n.)

1871, "intellectuality," also, variously, after German, "spirit" of a place or time; "spirituality," from German Geist (see ghost (n.), and compare zeitgeist). A German word for "enthusiasm, rapture; inspiration" is begeisterung.

Related entries & more 
prophetess (n.)

"woman who speaks or prognosticates by divine inspiration, a sibyl," late 14c., from or modeled on Old French prophetesse, Late Latin prophetissa. See prophet + -ess.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
power-house (n.)

also powerhouse, 1873, "building where power is generated (by steam, electricity, etc.) to drive machinery," from power (n.) + house (n.). Figurative sense "source of energy or inspiration" is by 1913.

Related entries & more 
Hippocrene 

fount on Mount Helicon sacred to the Muses, its waters were held to bestow poetic inspiration, from Greek Hippokrene, earlier hippou krene, literally "horse's fountain," from genitive of hippos "horse" (from PIE root *ekwo- "horse") + krēnē "fountain," which is of uncertain origin.

Related entries & more 
cut-and-paste (adj.)

"made or composed by piecing together existing parts," by 1938 with reference to trick photographs; see cut (v.) + paste (v.). By 1959 with reference to doing things with haste, carelessness, or lack of inspiration.

Related entries & more 
Helicon 
mountain in Boeotia, sacred to the Muses, on which arose the fountains of Aganippe and Hippocrene, 1520s, from Latinized form of Greek Helikon, literally "the tortuous mountain," from helix (genitive helikos) "spiral," from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, revolve." Used allusively in reference to poetic inspiration. Related: Heliconian.
Related entries & more 
Muggletonian (n.)

1660s, member of the Protestant sect founded c. 1651 by English tailor Lodowicke Muggleton (1609-1698) and John Reeve. Members believed in the prophetic inspiration of the two founders as being the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation xi.3-6. Members were still living in the 1860s.

Related entries & more