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

Next Steps Marshall says the email deactivation hasn’t deterred his plans. Matthew Boyle, Fortune, "Walmart Employee Who Protested the Retailer’s Gun Sales After Shootings Says the Company Retaliated Against Him," 6 Aug. 2019 Tabitha Wheeler-Reagan, a small business owner of a title transfer shop and nonprofit, said the extra enforcement is hurting business by deterring customers. By Cassandra Jaramillo María Méndez, Dallas News, "'The only issue is the direction': South Dallas residents complain about state troopers' tactics," 31 July 2019 The questions have deterred some families from continuing to seek university aid, Borst said. Jodi S. Cohen, ProPublica, "Parents Are Giving Up Custody of Their Kids to Get Need-Based College Financial Aid," 29 July 2019 By deterring migration, the deal will end the horrible overcrowding of Central Americans housed on both sides of the US-Mexico border. R. E. | Tegucigalpa, The Economist, "Inside Donald Trump’s migration pact with the Guatemalan president," 27 July 2019 The Trump administration says removing undocumented immigrants deters others from seeking to enter the country without going through the proper channels. Jeff Barker, baltimoresun.com, "ICE says 35 people were arrested in operation that targeted 2,100 in Baltimore and nine other cities," 23 July 2019 Our impressive history of progress has taught us repeatedly that U.S. citizens will not be deterred in their quest for knowledge and progress. Philip B. Russell, The Mercury News, "Opinion: If JFK were alive today, he would seek another giant leap for mankind," 19 July 2019 Other local residents and business leaders worry that dollar stores' concentration in urban areas deter grocery stores, which offer a wide range of produce and healthy options, from opening. Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN, "Dollar stores are everywhere. That's a problem for poor Americans," 19 July 2019 The decline this year could deter China’s progress in overtaking the US as the world’s biggest movie market—the first six months usually account for about 50% of the whole year, previous records show. Echo Huang, Quartzy, "China’s censorship is sinking its own movie market," 17 July 2019

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

10 Aug 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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