Definition of deter
- she would not be deterred by threats
- painting to deter rust
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Some potential buyers will be deterred by the price.
Painting the metal will deter rust.
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The word deter is rooted in fear. It was borrowed into English around the mid-16th century from the Latin verb deterrēre, which in turn was formed by combining de-, meaning "from" or "away," with terrēre, meaning "to frighten." Terrēre is also the source of terror, terrible, and even terrific, which originally meant "very bad" or "frightful." These days, you may be deterred by something that frightens you or by something that simply causes you to think about the difficult or unpleasant consequences of continuing. The word can also mean "to inhibit," as in "painting to deter rust."
: to cause (someone) to decide not to do something
: to prevent (something) from happening
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