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



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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 In it, an emerging NASCAR superstar driving for her family's team is deterred by an accident and becomes a journalist, gets involved with the team’s new driver and learns to deal with life’s unpredictability. Carole Goldberg,, "Write Stuff: ‘Brain on Fire’ author Susannah Cahalan coming to Twain House," 27 Nov. 2019 Someone threw rocks at Gualinga’s home and shouted death threats, but she was not deterred. Jimmy Carter, Time, "Former President Jimmy Carter: How Empowering Women and Girls Can Help Solve the Climate Crisis," 26 Nov. 2019 Despite the setback, he wasn’t deterred — and his persistence paid off. Wells Dusenbury,, "Why this Marlins’ minor league announcer left to join the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign," 26 Nov. 2019 But the Bucs weren’t deterred and won six of seven, including a 25-24 semifinal victory over Mission last week. Mitch Stephens,, "High school football: Lincoln faces stiff test in Balboa," 26 Nov. 2019 Caroline Casagrande, deputy assistant secretary for academic programs at the department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, said students are deterred by the high cost to attend U.S. schools. Collin Binkley, Fortune, "Foreign Students at U.S. Universities Dips for Third Year," 18 Nov. 2019 Anderson said Monday that he was not deterred by the requirement to return the documents. Michelle Griffith, Twin Cities, "Under protest, St. Paul lawyer returns 50,000 pages of court documents on alleged Boy Scouts abuse," 7 Oct. 2019 Dianne Doccolo and Tom Wright, both of Phoenix, were not deterred from visiting Hunt Valley Towne Centre, one day after four people were injured in stabbing attacks by a man identified today by police as Jamaal Ramone Taylor. Cody Boteler,, "Baltimore County police release 911 calls from Hunt Valley stabbing spree, ID officers who fatally shot suspect," 1 Oct. 2019 Staff shortages have been exacerbated by pension rules that deter some clinicians from taking on extra work. The Economist, "The Tories want to be the party of the NHS," 10 Nov. 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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Time Traveler for deter

Time Traveler

The first known use of deter was circa 1547

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Statistics for deter

Last Updated

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Deter.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

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More Definitions for deter


How to pronounce deter (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of deter

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


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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