counter

1 of 7

noun (1)

count·​er ˈkau̇n-tər How to pronounce counter (audio)
1
: a piece (as of metal or plastic) used in reckoning or in games
2
: something of value in bargaining : asset
3
: a level surface (such as a table, shelf or display case) over which transactions are conducted or food is served or on which goods are displayed or work is conducted
jewelry counter
a lunch counter

counter

2 of 7

noun (2)

count·​er ˈkau̇n-tər How to pronounce counter (audio)
plural counters
: a person or thing that counts something
… I would just tell them I am a very fast counter.Judy Blume
especially : a device or process for indicating a number or amount
a counter that records how many times a website is visited
As they entered the main door on Fifth Avenue, the guard clicked off two numbers on his people counter. E. L. Konigsburg

counter

3 of 7

verb

coun·​ter ˈkau̇n-tər How to pronounce counter (audio)
countered; countering ˈkau̇n-t(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce counter (audio)

transitive verb

1
a
: to act in opposition to : oppose
b
: offset, nullify
tried to counter the trend toward depersonalization
2
: to assert in answer
We countered that our warnings had been ignored.

intransitive verb

: to meet attacks or arguments with defensive or retaliatory steps

counter

4 of 7

adverb

coun·​ter ˈkau̇n-tər How to pronounce counter (audio)
1
: in an opposite or wrong direction
2
: to or toward a different or opposite direction, result, or effect
values that run counter to those of society

counter

5 of 7

noun (3)

coun·​ter ˈkau̇n-tər How to pronounce counter (audio)
1
2
: the after portion of a boat from the waterline to the extreme outward swell or stern overhang
3
a
: the act of making an attack while parrying one (as in boxing)
also : a blow thus given in boxing
b
: an agency or force that offsets : check
4
: a stiffener to give permanent form to a boot or shoe upper around the heel
5
: an area within the face of a letter wholly or partly enclosed by strokes
6
: a football play in which the ballcarrier goes in a direction opposite to the movement of the play

counter

6 of 7

adjective

coun·​ter ˈkau̇n-tər How to pronounce counter (audio)
1
: marked by or tending toward or in an opposite direction or effect
2
: given to or marked by opposition, hostility, or antipathy
3
: situated or lying opposite
the counter side
4
: recalling or ordering back by a superseding contrary order : countermanding
counter orders from the colonel

counter-

7 of 7

prefix

1
a
: contrary : opposite
counterclockwise
countermarch
b
: opposing : retaliatory
counterforce
counteroffensive
2
: complementary : corresponding
counterweight
counterpart
3
: duplicate : substitute
counterfoil
Phrases
over the counter
1
: in or through a broker's office rather than through a stock exchange
stock bought over the counter
2
: without a prescription
drugs available over the counter
under the counter
: by surreptitious means : in an illicit and private manner
workers being paid under the counter

Examples of counter in a Sentence

Verb When they blamed him for the collapse of the bridge, he countered that his warnings about the bridge had been ignored. “I could say the same thing about you,” she countered. After she made her point, he could not counter with anything. Noun (3) strong moral guidance at home is the best counter to the pernicious allure of popular culture her version of the domestic dispute was almost the exact counter of what actually happened Adjective was unprepared for such a strong counter campaign by opponents of the legislative bill
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The food is served within minutes once the customer delivers the order to the pair of cooks at the counter. John Yoon, New York Times, 7 June 2024 But Mikkelson and Shockey counter that the statement was appropriate under the law and only used to educate the public. Sarah Ritter, Kansas City Star, 5 June 2024 To try this at home, line a shallow baking pan or a portion of your counter with foil. Karla Walsh, Better Homes & Gardens, 2 June 2024 These were palatial wonderlands, with soaring ceilings, grand staircases and long counters featuring cosmetics, leather gloves, piles of ribbons and even delicious candies in rainbows of color. Julie Satow, Peoplemag, 31 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for counter 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'counter.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English countour, countere "table used for counting money or auditing accounts, metal disk used for arithmetic calculations," borrowed from Anglo-French countour, comptor (Middle French compteor "table used by a merchant to display wares and count money"), from conter, compter, cunter "to count, calculate, count as valid, relate, narrate" + -our, -or (Middle French -eoir), going back to Latin -ātōrium, from -ā-, stem formative of verbs + -tōrium, suffix denoting a place or object used for the activity of the verb (from neuter of -tōrius, adjective derivative of the agent noun -tōr-, -tor) — more at count entry 1

Note: See note at counter entry 2.

Noun (2)

Middle English countour, cowntere "person who counts or calculates, official who oversees the collection of taxes, pleader in court (who makes the conte, a formal statement of the basis of the case)," borrowed from Anglo-French cunteor, cuntur, countur "narrator, informant, pleader in court," from conter, compter, cunter "to count, calculate, count as valid, relate, narrate" + -eur, -ur, going back to Latin -ātōr-, -ātor, from -ā-, stem formative of verbs + -tōr-, -tor, agent suffix — more at count entry 1

Note: counter entry 1 and counter entry 2 have been homonyms since Middle English and were likely already homonyms in Anglo-French. They are separated here and in the Oxford English Dictionary, though the Middle English Dictionary treats them under a single lemma. In modern French they are distinct, with counter entry 1 corresponding to comptoir and counter entry 2 corresponding to conteur, though conteur is now used to mean "storyteller," as the base verb conter usually means "recount, relate."

Verb

Middle English countren, contren "to act against, oppose, contradict," derivative of contre counter entry 4 or its source, Anglo-French contre

Adverb

Middle English countre, countir, borrowed from Anglo-French contre, cuntre "against, in opposition to," going back to Latin contrā, adverb and preposition, "opposite, facing, against" — more at contra-

Noun (3)

derivative of counter entry 4 and counter entry 6; (sense 2) perhaps of distinct origin

Adjective

in part derivative of counter entry 4, in part independent use of counter--

Prefix

borrowed from Anglo-French contre-, cuntre- (also Middle French contre-), prefixal use of contre counter entry 4

First Known Use

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Adverb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (3)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1582, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of counter was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near counter

Cite this Entry

“Counter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/counter. Accessed 13 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

counter

1 of 7 noun
count·​er ˈkau̇nt-ər How to pronounce counter (audio)
1
: a piece (as of metal or plastic) used in counting or in games
2
: a level surface (as a table) over which business is done or food is served or on which goods are displayed

counter

2 of 7 noun
count·​er
: one that counts
especially : a device for indicating a number or amount

counter

3 of 7 verb
coun·​ter
ˈkau̇nt-ər
countered; countering ˈkau̇nt-ə-riŋ How to pronounce counter (audio)
ˈkau̇n-triŋ
1
: to act in opposition to : oppose
countering the claim for damages
2
: to give a blow in return
counter with a left hook

counter

4 of 7 adverb
coun·​ter
: in another or opposite direction
acting counter to advice

counter

5 of 7 noun
coun·​ter
1
: the act of giving a return blow
2
: the blow given

counter

6 of 7 adjective
coun·​ter
1
: moving in an opposite direction
the ship slowed by counter tides
2
: designed to oppose
a counter opinion

counter-

7 of 7 prefix
coun·​ter-
1
a
: contrary : opposite
counterclockwise
b
: opposing : retaliatory
counteroffensive
2
: like : matching
counterpart
Etymology

Noun

Middle English countour "something used in counting," from early French countour (same meaning), from Latin computatorium "a place for counting or keeping accounts," from earlier computare "to count, compute" — related to count entry 1, compute

Verb

Middle English countren "to oppose," from early French contre "against" — related to contra-, counter-

Prefix

derived from Latin contra "against, opposite" — related to contra-

Medical Definition

counter

1 of 2 noun
count·​er ˈkau̇nt-ər How to pronounce counter (audio)
: a level surface over which transactions are conducted or food is served or on which goods are displayed or work is conducted
a lunch counter

counter

2 of 2 noun
: one that counts
especially : a device for indicating a number or amount see geiger counter

Legal Definition

counter-

prefix
coun·​ter-
ˈkau̇n-tər
1
a
: contrary : opposite
counterletter
b
: opposing : retaliatory
counteraction
2
: complementary : corresponding
countersign
3
: duplicate : substitute
counterpart

More from Merriam-Webster on counter

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