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coun·​ter·​force ˈkau̇n-tər-ˌfȯrs How to pronounce counterforce (audio)
variants or counter-force
plural counterforces or counter-forces
: a force that opposes another force
The hands grip a series of holds or shuffle along an edge, while the feet provide a counterforce by pushing against the rock …Don Graydon
Everywhere, we are witnessing an almost mad race between resurgent nationalism, ethnic hatreds and the counter-force of potential prosperity and free exchange.George Steiner
Hideki Yukawa's theory suggested that by exchanging a particle with a particular mass, one could create a strong attractive counterforce that would bind protons to protons, protons to neutrons, and neutrons to neutrons.Leon Lederman et al.


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variants or counter-force
: being or relating to military activity that is focused on reducing the fighting capability of the opponent's forces (as by destroying military bases or weapons) while attempting to minimize civilian casualties
Targeting military facilities … is a counterforce strategy, aimed at destruction of an opponent's armed forces.Richard Wolfson
compare countervalue

Examples of counterforce in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
First was the possibility that the United States was building new conventional weapons that could be used to attack China’s nuclear forces, a strategy known as conventional counterforce. M. Taylor Fravel, Foreign Affairs, 10 Nov. 2023 In many ways, the logic of a counterforce strategy parallels the logic of traditional military strategy. Charles L. Glaser, Foreign Affairs, 5 Oct. 2023 Despite this, America’s counterforce lead has actually grown. Matthew Gavin Frank, Harper's Magazine, 3 May 2023 There must be a counterforce that comes from within Congress. USA TODAY, 25 July 2023 Photo illustration: Annie Zhao Excitement over artificial intelligence is proving a powerful counterforce for a tech economy that had been slowing, lifting share prices and growth outlooks at many giants and igniting a wave of new startups. Tom Dotan, WSJ, 6 July 2023 Since the nadir of Russian power in the decade and a half following the Soviet collapse, Russia has bolstered both its nuclear deterrent and, to a degree, its counterforce capabilities. Matthew Gavin Frank, Harper's Magazine, 3 May 2023 Both tacit and open resistance to all kinds of domination have marked Asia’s history, generating a persistent counterforce to authoritarianism. Foreign Affairs, 6 Sep. 2022 The strike, known as a counterforce strike, would be concentrated away from major population and industrial centers. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 29 Mar. 2022 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use


1609, in the meaning defined above


1955, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of counterforce was in 1609

Dictionary Entries Near counterforce

Cite this Entry

“Counterforce.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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