deter

verb
de·​ter | \ di-ˈtər How to pronounce deter (audio) , dē-\
deterred; deterring

Definition of deter

transitive verb

1 : to turn aside, discourage, or prevent from acting she would not be deterred by threats
2 : inhibit painting to deter rust

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Other Words from deter

determent \ -​ˈtər-​mənt How to pronounce determent (audio) \ noun
deterrability \ -​ˌtər-​ə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce deterrability (audio) \ noun
deterrable \ -​ˈtər-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce deterrable (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for deter

Synonyms

discourage, dissuade, inhibit

Antonyms

encourage, persuade

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The Fearful History of Deter

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."

Examples of deter in a Sentence

Rick Wagoner, CEO of General Motors, the automaker in most imminent danger of failure, gave lawmakers three reasons Chapter 11 isn't an option. First, the special financing that usually tides companies over through reorganization is so scarce right now that GM might not be able to get enough to keep functioning. Second, the stigma of bankruptcy would deter consumers from buying GM cars. Third, GM is already in the midst of a dramatic reorganization that will pave the way to a profitable future. — Justin Fox, Time, 1 Dec. 2008 For some species that deter attack by being poisonous, the goal of their physical appearance is not to hide or confuse other forest creatures, but to be noticed. — Candice Millard, The River of Doubt, 2005 Originally developed to monitor and track cattle, radio frequency identification (RFID) is now the cutting edge in merchandise, parcel, and baggage tracking. It's debuting in stores and libraries across the country as the most effective way to track inventory and deter theft without making consumers feel like they're in a war zone. — Athan Bezaaitis, PC Magazine, January 2000 None of these tribulations deterred spectators in the least. The ancient Olympics remained immensely popular, the greatest recurring event in antiquity, from 776 b.c. (when Hercules himself was said to have founded them) until a ban on pagan festivals by Christian emperor Theodosius I in the fourth century a.d. ensured their demise—a spectacular thousand-year run. — Leigh Steinberg, Civilization, June/July 2000 Some potential buyers will be deterred by the price. Painting the metal will deter rust.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Introduced in 1994 under the guise of environmental concern, the UK government believed that the tax would deter travelers from wanton air travel. Cynthia Drescher, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Hidden Fee That Makes Flying Through Some Airports More Expensive," 9 Apr. 2018 Valencia doesn’t list prices to deter people from visiting the page. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Johnny Valencia Is Instagram’s “King of Corsets”," 20 Feb. 2019 Councilman Jon Weinstein, who is seeking re-election in District 1, proposed the bill to deter pet owners from keeping their dogs outside without proper shelter between Dec. 1 and March 31 and when temperatures drop below 32 degrees. Jess Nocera, Howard County Times, "Amendment added to proposed Howard dog legislation, bans tethering and expands to cover all weather conditions," 19 June 2018 We will not be deterred in any way by ill-informed and illegitimate attacks on this important work. Natalie Andrews, WSJ, "Pro-Israel Group Lobbies for U.S. Aid, Funds Congressional Trips," 14 Feb. 2019 Don’t be deterred—get lost and ask a shepherd for help. Kyre Chenven, Condé Nast Traveler, "For Sardinia’s Wild Side, Head to Sulcis," 12 Oct. 2018 Some hold out hope that Israel might be deterred by an inevitable international outcry over razing the community. Fox News, "Doomed Palestinian village turns to Europe as last hope," 16 Sep. 2018 While event organizers and spectators are most deterred by heavy rain, lightning can strike several miles away from rain, sometimes even farther, which can lead to a false sense of security. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, "Photos: In many places, Fourth of July fireworks celebrations coincided with lightning — and it wasn’t safe," 5 July 2018 Those already in Mexico are unlikely to be deterred by the threat of detention or long waits, advocates say. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, "On US-Mexican border, the rules change, but human impulses don't," 21 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deter.' 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 deter

circa 1547, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for deter

Latin deterrēre, from de- + terrēre to frighten — more at terror

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Statistics for deter

Last Updated

20 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for deter

The first known use of deter was circa 1547

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More Definitions for deter

deter

verb

English Language Learners Definition of deter

: to cause (someone) to decide not to do something
: to prevent (something) from happening

deter

verb
de·​ter | \ di-ˈtər How to pronounce deter (audio) \
deterred; deterring

Kids Definition of deter

1 : to cause (someone) not to do something Nothing deters a good man from doing what is honorable.— Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
2 : to prevent (something) from happening Painting the metal will deter rust.

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More from Merriam-Webster on deter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for deter

Spanish Central: Translation of deter

Nglish: Translation of deter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of deter for Arabic Speakers

Comments on deter

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