Is there any difference between ‘prohibit’ and ‘bar’ when the two words are used to express the meaning ‘to stop officially from doing sth’?

  • Please tell us what you understood when you looked these words up in a dictionary. – Mari-Lou A Dec 24 '18 at 13:34
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    Banned is far more likely than prohibited to be used with the specific subsense [of a person] not allowed to be present - as opposed to [of an action] not allowed to be done. Both words are fine with Smoking is banned / prohibited in / by the pub, but My alcoholic neighbour is prohibited in / by the pub doesn't work for me. – FumbleFingers Dec 24 '18 at 14:15

'Ban' is normally the action of forbidding something by the law or a social rule. As I believe, the best synonym of this word would be 'censor'.

'Prohibit' is a verb very similar to 'forbid'. They mean the same, yet the former sounds more official and might also come with some law enforced penalties.

The main difference between 'bar' and 'ban' is that the latter usually applies to things, and the former usually applies to people.

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    The question is asking about bar, not ban (though I’d support keeping ban in the answer as well, since it’s obviously another closely related verb). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 24 '18 at 13:49
  • @JanusBahsJacquet, sorry for that little mistake of mine. Added some information about 'bar'. – raleigh Dec 24 '18 at 15:33
  • I would normally say that the meaning of bar and ban is the reverse of what you claim. I barred the door (bar applies to things) versus I banned her from talking (ban applies to people). Of course, they can be used interchangeably in some contexts—but not in others. Or maybe you confused which word was the former and which word was the latter in your sentence. ;) – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Dec 24 '18 at 16:54
  • @JasonBassford, no, I did not confused the latter and the former. Actually, it appears we are both right in some way. (I did some research and found macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/bar_2). Yet grammarist.com/usage/ban-bar supports my way of understanding the difference between the words. – raleigh Dec 24 '18 at 18:17

According to Oxford Living Dictionary 'bar' and 'prohibit' are synonyms:


// Prevent or prohibit (someone) from doing something or from going somewhere.

‘journalists had been barred from covering the elections’


// Formally forbid someone from doing something.

‘he is prohibited from becoming a director'.

As we see from this 'PROHIBIT' is more formal than 'BAR'.

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