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verb de·ter \di-ˈtər, dē-\

Simple Definition of deter

  • : to cause (someone) to decide not to do something

  • : to prevent (something) from happening

Full Definition of deter


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to turn aside, discourage, or prevent from acting <she would not be deterred by threats>

  3. 2 :  inhibit <painting to deter rust>

de·ter·ment play \-ˈtər-mənt\ noun
de·ter·ra·bil·i·ty play \-ˌtər-ə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun
de·ter·ra·ble play \-ˈtər-ə-bəl\ adjective

Examples of deter

  1. Rick Wagoner, CEO of General Motors, the automaker in most imminent danger of failure, gave lawmakers three reasons Chapter 11 isn't an option. First, the special financing that usually tides companies over through reorganization is so scarce right now that GM might not be able to get enough to keep functioning. Second, the stigma of bankruptcy would deter consumers from buying GM cars. Third, GM is already in the midst of a dramatic reorganization that will pave the way to a profitable future. —Justin Fox, Time, 1 Dec. 2008

  2. For some species that deter attack by being poisonous, the goal of their physical appearance is not to hide or confuse other forest creatures, but to be noticed. —Candice Millard, The River of Doubt, 2005

  3. Originally developed to monitor and track cattle, radio frequency identification (RFID) is now the cutting edge in merchandise, parcel, and baggage tracking. It's debuting in stores and libraries across the country as the most effective way to track inventory and deter theft without making consumers feel like they're in a war zone. —Athan Bezaaitis, PC Magazine, January 2000

  4. None of these tribulations deterred spectators in the least. The ancient Olympics remained immensely popular, the greatest recurring event in antiquity, from 776 B.C. (when Hercules himself was said to have founded them) until a ban on pagan festivals by Christian emperor Theodosius I in the fourth century A.D. ensured their demise—a spectacular thousand-year run. —Leigh Steinberg, Civilization, June/July 2000

  5. Some potential buyers will be deterred by the price.

  6. Painting the metal will deter rust.

Origin of deter

Latin deterrēre, from de- + terrēre to frighten — more at terror

First Known Use: circa 1547

Seen and Heard

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February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

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