deter

verb
de·​ter | \ di-ˈtər , 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 \ noun
deterrability \ -​ˌtər-​ə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \ noun
deterrable \ -​ˈtər-​ə-​bəl \ 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

Adversaries are still deterred from surprise nuclear attacks. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Does America Still Need the Nuclear Triad?," 23 Jan. 2019 Despite the good intentions, the thought of getting up early, or heading to the gym after work instead of drinks with friends or even just home to catch up on TV, can deter some people from realizing those goals. SELF, "7 Tips for Anyone Who Wants to Start Working Out but Doesn't Know Where to Begin," 10 Jan. 2019 From his view, stiffer prison penalties deter crime, keeping Americans safe. German Lopez, Vox, "The Senate just passed criminal justice reform," 19 Dec. 2018 But these sanctions have apparently not deterred the Russian government and other countries with an adversarial relationship with the US from maneuvering to affect the outcome of some 2018 congressional races, according to Coats. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Trump signs order authorizing “automatic” sanctions for election interference [Updated]," 12 Sep. 2018 Burma’s government clearly wants to deter other journalists from similar reporting. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Burma’s Ethnic Cleansers," 4 Sep. 2018 If the threat of inclement weather deters you, rest easy knowing that you won’t be penalized for it. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "How to Vacation Like the Royal Family in the Bahamas," 30 Aug. 2018 Trump wanted to deter Iran’s ballistic missile program and other destabilizing actions in the region. BostonGlobe.com, "Trump announces he’ll exit Iran nuclear deal," 8 May 2018 Trump wanted to deter Iran's ballistic missile program and other destabilizing actions in the region. Josh Lederman, Fox News, "World to learn fate of Iran nuclear pact Tuesday afternoon," 8 May 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

23 Feb 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 \
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

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