Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb en·cour·age \in-ˈkər-ij, -ˈkə-rij, en-\

Simple Definition of encourage

  • : to make (someone) more determined, hopeful, or confident

  • : to make (something) more appealing or more likely to happen

  • : to make (someone) more likely to do something : to tell or advise (someone) to do something

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of encourage


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope :  hearten <she was encouraged to continue by her early success> b :  to attempt to persuade :  urge <they encouraged him to go back to school>

  3. 2 :  to spur on :  stimulate <warm weather encourages plant growth>

  4. 3 :  to give help or patronage to :  foster <government grants designed to encourage conservation>

encourager noun

Examples of encourage in a sentence

  1. They encouraged us in our work.

  2. Encourage each other with kind words.

  3. The program is meant to encourage savings.

  4. Warm weather encourages plant growth.

  5. He claims the new regulations will encourage investment.

  6. He claims the new regulations will encourage people to invest.

  7. We want to encourage students to read more.

  8. My parents encouraged me to go back to college.

  9. They encouraged her to go.

Origin of encourage

Middle English encoragen, from Anglo-French encorager, from en- + curage courage

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of encourage

encourage, inspirit, hearten, embolden mean to fill with courage or strength of purpose. encourage suggests the raising of one's confidence especially by an external agency <the teacher's praise encouraged the students to greater efforts>. inspirit, somewhat literary, implies instilling life, energy, courage, or vigor into something <patriots inspirited the people to resist>. hearten implies the lifting of dispiritedness or despondency by an infusion of fresh courage or zeal <a hospital patient heartened by good news>. embolden implies the giving of courage sufficient to overcome timidity or reluctance <emboldened by her first success, she tried an even more difficult climb>.

Rhymes with encourage

ENCOURAGE Defined for Kids


verb en·cour·age \in-ˈkər-ij\

Definition of encourage for Students


  1. 1 :  make more determined, hopeful, or confident :  hearten <Cheering fans encouraged the team.>

  2. 2 :  to give help or support to :  aid <Warm weather encourages plant growth.>

encouragingly adverb <“Great job,” she said encouragingly.>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up encourage? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


expressing little or no emotion

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.