en·​cour·​age in-ˈkər-ij How to pronounce encourage (audio)
encouraged; encouraging

transitive verb

: to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope : hearten
she was encouraged to continue by her early success
: to attempt to persuade : urge
they encouraged him to go back to school
: to spur on : stimulate
warm weather encourages plant growth
: to give help or patronage to : foster
government grants designed to encourage conservation
encourager noun
Choose the Right Synonym for encourage

encourage, inspirit, hearten, embolden mean to fill with courage or strength of purpose.

encourage suggests the raising of one's confidence especially by an external agency.

the teacher's praise encouraged the students to greater efforts

inspirit, somewhat literary, implies instilling life, energy, courage, or vigor into something.

patriots inspirited the people to resist

hearten implies the lifting of dispiritedness or despondency by an infusion of fresh courage or zeal.

a hospital patient heartened by good news

embolden implies the giving of courage sufficient to overcome timidity or reluctance.

emboldened by her first success, she tried an even more difficult climb

Example Sentences

They encouraged us in our work. Encourage each other with kind words. The program is meant to encourage savings. Warm weather encourages plant growth. He claims the new regulations will encourage investment. He claims the new regulations will encourage people to invest. We want to encourage students to read more. My parents encouraged me to go back to college. They encouraged her to go. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Families are encouraged to reach out to their students’ teachers with questions. Gia Orsino, BostonGlobe.com, 4 June 2023 He was born in Northern California to a mother who was part of the United Farm Workers labor union, a woman who encouraged John’s zeal for dissent. Tyler R. Tynes, Los Angeles Times, 4 June 2023 Maintaining the lawn at a taller height will encourage a stronger root system and allow the lawn to withstand stress caused by the hot and dry weather in the summer. Tim Johnson, Chicago Tribune, 4 June 2023 An early TikTok video of her crying while applying clown makeup garnered hundreds of thousands of views and encouraged her to post more. Kate Ryan, New York Times, 3 June 2023 Tourists in Hawaii are encouraged to put what's best for Hawaii at the top of their itinerary When the pandemic brought travel to a standstill, no one was more aware than the locals in Hawaii, where fewer tourists meant more space. Catherine Garcia, The Week, 3 June 2023 On high-volume days, like weekends and July 3 and 4, online purchases are strongly encouraged because fair officials are capping daily attendance at 60,000 a day, so sellouts may occur. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 June 2023 There’s no room rental fee, but some spaces do come with a minimum — a perfect way to encourage plus-one invites to graduation gatherings, wedding after-parties, alumni events and corporate receptions. Sophia Solano, Washington Post, 1 June 2023 The council encourages boaters to check their equipment and take a boating safety course before even hitting the water. Abigail Adams, Peoplemag, 31 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'encourage.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English encoragen, from Anglo-French encorager, from en- + curage courage

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of encourage was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near encourage

Cite this Entry

“Encourage.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/encourage. Accessed 6 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


en·​cour·​age in-ˈkər-ij How to pronounce encourage (audio)
encouraged; encouraging
: to cause to feel courage, spirit, or hope
encouraged by her kind words
: to try to persuade
encouraged him to go back to school
: to spur on : stimulate
: to give help to : foster
government grants to encourage young artists
warm weather encourages plant growth

More from Merriam-Webster on encourage

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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