ex·​hort | \ig-ˈzȯrt \
exhorted; exhorting; exhorts

Definition of exhort 

transitive verb

: to incite by argument or advice : urge strongly exhorting voters to do the right thing

intransitive verb

: to give warnings or advice : make urgent appeals

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Other Words from exhort

exhorter noun

Did You Know?

Exhort is a 15th-century coinage. It derives from the Latin verb hortari, meaning "to incite," and it often implies the ardent urging or admonishing of an orator or preacher. People in the 16th century apparently liked the root -hort, but they couldn't resist fiddling around with different prefixes to create other words similar in meaning to "exhort." They came up with adhort and dehort. Adhort was short-lived and became obsolete after the 17th century. Dehort was similar to exhort and adhort but with a more specific meaning of "to dissuade." It had a better run than adhort, being used well into the late 19th century, but it is now considered archaic.

Examples of exhort in a Sentence

He exhorted his people to take back their land. She exhorted her listeners to support the proposition.

Recent Examples on the Web

The Classical restraint to which Reynolds exhorted his countrymen soon devolved into disordered individuality, the eccentricity that defines English style. Dominic Green, WSJ, "A Museum Honors Its Educational History," 19 May 2018 Deanna bakes these girls lasagna, boosts their self-esteem and exhorts them to enjoy the power and beauty of their youth. Glenn Whipp, latimes.com, "In 'Life of the Party,' Melissa McCarthy goes back to school and it's kind of a dream," 10 May 2018 Rules posted in the lobby of some exhort residents to be quiet, neighborly and observe a curfew. Sarah Dilorenzo, Fox News, "Fire in Sao Paulo squat shines light on housing shortage," 8 May 2018 Late one night in May 1964, Dorothy Cotton stood inside a Methodist church and exhorted a crowd of civil rights marchers to take to the streets with love, not hate. Harrison Smith, chicagotribune.com, "Dorothy Cotton, civil rights leader and confidante to Martin Luther King Jr., dies at 88," 12 June 2018 The president had exhorted the league to discipline players who don’t stand for the anthem. Michael C. Bender, WSJ, "Trump Says Philadelphia Eagles Won’t Visit White House," 5 June 2018 Hinting at possible divisions within Ms. Merkel’s own party, Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer exhorted party members to back the chancellor against Mr. Seehofer. Bojan Pancevski, WSJ, "Demand for Tighter Border Threatens to Undo German Government," 15 June 2018 Thankfully, few proponents of normcore politics explicitly go as far as Wittes in exhorting Trump’s opponents to abjure conventional policy issues. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Donald Trump, the resistance, and the limits of normcore politics," 3 July 2018 Then a living room set appears, and the hard-working, lightly bickering Gloria and Emilio exhort their child to do his homework. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "Hot, Timely 'On Your Feet!' Delivers Estefans' Indomitable Spirit," 20 June 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for exhort

Middle English, from Anglo-French exorter, from Latin exhortari, from ex- + hortari to incite — more at yearn

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Statistics for exhort

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for exhort

The first known use of exhort was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for exhort



English Language Learners Definition of exhort

: to try to influence (someone) by words or advice : to strongly urge (someone) to do something


ex·​hort | \ig-ˈzȯrt \
exhorted; exhorting

Kids Definition of exhort

: to try to influence by words or advice : urge strongly The Centipede was down there too, exhorting them both frantically to greater efforts …— Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach

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What made you want to look up exhort? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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