Difference Wiki

Condemn vs. Prohibit: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 5, 2023
"Condemn" means to express strong disapproval or declare as unfit, while "Prohibit" means to forbid or prevent an action by law or authority.

Key Differences

"Condemn" and "Prohibit" are both words that reflect a certain type of disallowance, but they operate in different realms. To "Condemn" is primarily about expressing a strong disapproval or criticism, often driven by moral, ethical, or personal judgments.
On the other hand, "Prohibit" is more about setting clear boundaries or restrictions. When something is prohibited, it's forbidden by law, rule, or authority. It's not just a matter of expressing disapproval; it's about actively preventing or stopping an action or behavior.
For instance, a government might "Condemn" actions of another nation, expressing disapproval on the international stage. This condemnation might not come with tangible consequences but serves as a statement of position. However, the same government might "Prohibit" the sale of certain goods from that nation, enforcing an actual ban.
While both "Condemn" and "Prohibit" suggest negative responses to behaviors or actions, "Condemn" often comes from a place of judgment, and "Prohibit" from a place of authority or control. One could argue that "Condemnation" is more passive in nature as it denotes a sentiment, whereas "Prohibition" is more active, reflecting a directive or mandate.
In essence, while both words hint at disapproval, "Condemn" is about expressing that disapproval, and "Prohibit" is about enforcing a restriction or ban based on rules or authority.

Comparison Chart




Expression of disapproval
Enforcement of a ban or restriction


Often moral, ethical or personal judgments
Based on laws, rules, or authoritative decisions


Mostly intangible consequences
Tangible consequences (e.g., legal penalties)

Example in Action

Many religious texts condemn certain behaviors.
The law prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol.

Condemn and Prohibit Definitions


Declare as unfit for use
The building was condemned after the earthquake.


Make impossible; prevent
The tight security prohibits unauthorized entry.


Express strong disapproval
Critics condemn the movie for its graphic content.


Formally forbid by law or rule
The law prohibits smoking in public places.


Denounce as wrong or evil
Activists condemn the use of child labor.


Exclude or keep out
The policy prohibits pets in the building.


To express strong disapproval of
Condemned the needless waste of food.


Bar or hinder an action
Their agreement prohibits any trade with rival companies.


To pronounce judgment against; sentence
Condemned the felons to prison.


Put a stop to
The guards prohibited fans from entering the stadium.


To judge or declare to be unfit for use or consumption, usually by official order
Condemn an old building.


To forbid by authority
Smoking is prohibited in most theaters.


To force (someone) to experience, endure, or do something
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (George Santayana).


To prevent; preclude
Modesty prohibits me from saying what happened.


To lend credence to or provide evidence for an adverse judgment against
Were condemned by their actions.


(transitive) To forbid, disallow, or proscribe officially; to make illegal or illicit.
The restaurant prohibits smoking on the patio.


(Law) To appropriate (property) for public use.


To forbid by authority; to interdict; as, God prohibited Adam from eating of the fruit of a certain tree; we prohibit a person from doing a thing, and also the doing of the thing; as, the law prohibits men from stealing, or it prohibits stealing.


(transitive) To strongly criticise or denounce; to excoriate the perpetrators of.
The president condemned the terrorists.


To hinder; to debar; to prevent; to preclude.
Gates of burning adamant,Barred over us, prohibit all egress.


(transitive) To judicially pronounce (someone) guilty.


Command against;
I forbid you to call me late at night
Mother vetoed the trip to the chocolate store


(transitive) To judicially announce a verdict upon a finding of guilt; To sentence
The judge condemned him to death.
She was condemned to life in prison.


(transitive) To confer eternal divine punishment upon.


(transitive) To adjudge (a building) as being unfit for habitation.
The house was condemned after it was badly damaged by fire.


(transitive) To adjudge (building or construction work) as of unsatisfactory quality, requiring the work to be redone.


(transitive) To adjudge (food or drink) as being unfit for human consumption.


To declare something to be unfit for use, or further use.


(transitive) To determine and declare (property) to be assigned to public use. See eminent domain.


To declare (a vessel) to be forfeited to the government, to be a prize, or to be unfit for service.


To pronounce to be wrong; to disapprove of; to censure.
Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it!Why, every fault's condemned ere it be done.
Wilt thou condemn him that is most just?


To declare the guilt of; to make manifest the faults or unworthiness of; to convict of guilt.
The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it.


To pronounce a judicial sentence against; to sentence to punishment, suffering, or loss; to doom; - with to before the penalty.
Driven out from bliss, condemnedIn this abhorred deep to utter woe.
To each his sufferings; all are men,Condemned alike to groan.
And they shall condemn him to death.
The thief condemned, in law already dead.
No flocks that range the valley free,To slaughter I condemn.


To amerce or fine; - with in before the penalty.
The king of Egypt . . . condemned the land in a hundred talents of silver.


To adjudge or pronounce to be unfit for use or service; to adjudge or pronounce to be forfeited; as, the ship and her cargo were condemned.


To doom to be taken for public use, under the right of eminent domain.


Express strong disapproval of;
We condemn the racism in South Africa
These ideas were reprobated


Declare or judge unfit;
The building was condemned by the inspector


Compel or force into a particular state or activity;
His devotion to his sick wife condemned him to a lonely existence


Demonstrate the guilt of (someone);
Her strange behavior condemned her


Pronounce a sentence on (somebody) in a court of law;
He was condemned to ten years in prison


Sentence to a punishment
The court condemned him to ten years in prison.


To doom to a particular fate
His actions condemned him to a life of exile.


Can a society Condemn certain morals?

Yes, societal norms can condemn specific morals or behaviors, though they might not necessarily prohibit them.

Can you Condemn someone's behavior?

Absolutely, one can condemn behavior as wrong or inappropriate, unlike prohibiting which implies a formal restriction.

Can you Condemn without offering a solution?

Yes, one can condemn an action without suggesting alternatives, unlike prohibit, which implies a clear directive against something.

Can Condemn refer to a building's status?

Yes, a building can be condemned if it's deemed unsafe, unlike prohibit which relates to forbidding actions.

Is smoking Prohibited in many public places?

Yes, many places prohibit smoking for public health, even if they don't condemn the act of smoking itself.

Does Prohibit always imply legal consequences?

Often, yes. Actions that are prohibited typically have consequences if violated, unlike just condemning an act.

Is Prohibit stronger than Condemn?

In terms of enforcement, yes. To prohibit is to enforce a ban, while to condemn is to express disapproval.

Can institutions Prohibit certain actions?

Yes, institutions can prohibit specific actions through policies or guidelines, whereas condemning would be expressing disapproval.

Can public opinion Condemn a public figure?

Yes, public opinion can condemn a figure's actions or statements, whereas prohibiting would involve a formal ban or restriction.

Can literature Condemn societal norms?

Definitely, literature can condemn or critique societal issues, unlike prohibiting, which would be a legal or formal action.

Does Condemn always have a negative connotation?

Typically, yes. To condemn is to express strong disapproval, unlike prohibit, which is about restriction.

Are prohibited items always illegal?

Usually, prohibited items are forbidden by laws or rules, whereas condemned items may just be disapproved.

Is alcohol Prohibited in some countries?

Yes, some countries prohibit the sale and consumption of alcohol, rather than just condemning its use.

Can one Condemn without understanding fully?

It's possible, but it might lead to unjust condemnation. Unlike prohibit, which often has a clear basis for restriction.

Do all religions Prohibit the same things?

No, what one religion prohibits might differ from another, though many might condemn similar moral wrongs.

Can companies Prohibit unionizing?

In some places, companies might prohibit union activities, even if they don't condemn the concept of unions.

Do schools Prohibit certain student behaviors?

Yes, schools often have codes of conduct that prohibit specific actions, even if they don't necessarily condemn the behavior outside of that context.

Does Prohibit always require authority?

Typically, yes. To prohibit usually stems from a position of authority, unlike condemning, which can be more personal.

Can parents Condemn a child's behavior?

Yes, parents can condemn behaviors they find inappropriate, and they might prohibit certain actions for safety or discipline.

Can art Condemn societal issues?

Absolutely, art can condemn or critique societal norms, unlike prohibit, which is about formal restriction.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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