coun·​ter·​pro·​duc·​tive | \ ˌkau̇n-tər-prə-ˈdək-tiv How to pronounce counterproductive (audio) \

Definition of counterproductive

: tending to hinder the attainment of a desired goal violence as a means to achieve an end is counterproductive— W. E. Brock born 1930

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Examples of counterproductive in a Sentence

His uncontrollable anger is very counterproductive to his attempt at saving his marriage. harsh disciplinary measures that prove to be counterproductive

Recent Examples on the Web

The myth that real rehabilitation consists of locking people up in seclusion with only a Bible and their thoughts was long ago debunked as cruel and counterproductive. Karen L. Murtagh, Fortune, "Commentary: Why Is New York Giving Tablets to All State Prisoners?," 2 Feb. 2018 Trump has traded barbs with some of America’s closest allies, creating tension that is both needless and counterproductive. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Mattis’s resignation was a scathing indictment of Trump’s foreign policy," 21 Dec. 2018 Some administration officials have resisted such a meeting, viewing it as counterproductive at a time when Russia’s meddling during the 2016 US election and possible links to the Trump campaign are under scrutiny. Andrew E. Kramer,, "Trump, Putin to hold summit, officials say," 27 June 2018 Of all his political gifts and tools, Obama has always been most hesitant to wield raw power, circumscribing the options available to him by dismissing the bluntest tools as either immediately or eventually counterproductive. Gabriel Debenedetti, Daily Intelligencer, "Where Is Barack Obama?," 24 June 2018 America’s policy of diplomatic non-recognition of Communist China, which began in the early 1950s, was decried as counterproductive by some critics, especially Asian specialists, from the start. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Trump Goes to North Korea. Or Not.," 20 Apr. 2018 Readers rightfully freaked, calling the piece sexist, racist, and counterproductive in bringing equality and recognition to women's sports. Elizabeth Narins, Cosmopolitan, "How Venus Williams Really Feels About Her Body," 17 July 2015 But there’s enough at stake in Florida that Republicans can’t afford to just write it off, and the anti-Latino themes the president is emphasizing are likely counterproductive in these key races. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "The cynical politics of John Bolton’s “Troika of Tyranny”," 1 Nov. 2018 That’s because lifting too often for too long can actually be counterproductive to building muscle and strength. Cassie Lynn Lambert, SELF, "4 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Lifting Weights," 16 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'counterproductive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of counterproductive

1959, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for counterproductive

Last Updated

1 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for counterproductive

The first known use of counterproductive was in 1959

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More Definitions for counterproductive



English Language Learners Definition of counterproductive

: not helpful : making the thing you want to happen less likely to happen

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Comments on counterproductive

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


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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