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Prohibited vs. Restricted: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on November 3, 2023
Prohibited means completely forbidden, while Restricted means limited or controlled within set boundaries.

Key Differences

"Prohibited" implies a strong legal or formal directive that completely forbids something, while "Restricted" suggests that there are set limitations or conditions under which something is allowed.
Actions or items that are "Prohibited" are not allowed under any circumstances, often enforced by law or rules. Conversely, when something is "Restricted," it is allowed under specific conditions or within certain limits.
"Prohibited" carries a sense of absolute denial, often associated with potential penalties for violation. "Restricted," however, denotes that while limitations are in place, compliance within set parameters is acceptable.
Places or items that are "Prohibited" are often completely inaccessible or not permitted for general public use or consumption. In contrast, "Restricted" areas or items are typically accessible to individuals with the proper authorization or under certain conditions.
"Prohibited" and "Restricted" both serve to establish boundaries and are often used in legal, regulatory, or policy contexts. However, "Prohibited" signifies a total ban, while "Restricted" implies controlled or regulated allowance.

Comparison Chart

Level of Allowance

No allowance; completely forbidden
Some allowance; controlled conditions


Often severe penalties for violation
Less severe; adherence to limits needed


Not accessible or permissible
Accessible with proper authorization


Inflexible; no exceptions
Some flexibility within set parameters

Usage Context

Used for absolute bans
Used when conditional allowance is meant

Prohibited and Restricted Definitions


Completely forbidden by law.
Smoking is prohibited here.


Not available to all.
This content is restricted to premium users.


Not allowed; prevented.
Entry is prohibited without a pass.


Controlled or regulated.
Speed is restricted to 30 mph in this zone.


Denied access or use.
Hunting is prohibited in the national park.


Limited to certain conditions.
Access is restricted to staff only.


Vetoed; not permitted.
Unauthorized vehicles are prohibited in this area.


Subject to specific rules.
Usage of the facility is restricted to members.


Barred; banned.
Cell phones are prohibited during the exam.


Confined within boundaries.
Parking is restricted to designated areas.


To forbid by authority
Smoking is prohibited in most theaters.


Kept within certain limits; limited
On a restricted diet.


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


Excluding or unavailable to certain groups
A restricted area.


Forbidden; unallowed


Available only to authorized persons
A restricted file.


Simple past tense and past participle of prohibit


Simple past tense and past participle of restrict


Excluded from use or mention;
Forbidden fruit
In our house dancing and playing cards were out
A taboo subject


Limited within bounds.


Forbidden by law


Available only to certain authorized groups of people.
Restricted area
Restricted access
A restricted military document


Only available to customers who do not belong to racial, ethnic or religious minorities.


Subject to restriction or subjected to restriction;
Of restricted importance


Restricted in meaning; (as e.g. `man' in `a tall man')


Curbed or regulated;
Controlled emotions


The lowest level of official classification for documents


Can Restricted be conditional?

Yes, it involves set limitations or conditions.

Does Prohibited imply legal enforcement?

Often, it denotes a legal or formal ban.

Is Restricted less severe than Prohibited?

Generally, as it allows for some conditions.

Are there exceptions to Prohibited?

Rarely, it's typically an absolute term.

Is Restricted used for controlled areas?

Yes, like areas needing special clearance.

Can Restricted imply a partial allowance?

Yes, within predefined boundaries or conditions.

Are Restricted zones accessible?

Typically, with proper authorization or conditions.

Does Prohibited mean no allowance?

Correct, it signifies complete disallowance.

Is Prohibited absolute?

Yes, it means completely forbidden.

Does Restricted mean limited access?

Yes, often to authorized persons or under certain conditions.

Is Prohibited used for safety reasons?

Often, like prohibiting hazardous substances.

Can Prohibited items be confiscated?

Often, especially if they pose a risk or are illegal.

Can Prohibited lead to penalties?

Yes, violations often result in consequences.

Can Restricted conditions change?

Possibly, based on regulations or authority discretion.

Is something Prohibited unaccessible?

Yes, it's not permitted or allowed.

Does Restricted access require approval?

Generally, like a pass or clearance.

Is Prohibited always formal?

It's commonly used in formal or official contexts.

Is Prohibited synonymous with illegal?

In many contexts, yes, it denotes something against the law.

Are Restricted items always visible?

Not always; some may be confidential or hidden.

Does Restricted involve regulations?

Yes, it implies adherence to specific rules.
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
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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