reinforcement

noun
re·​in·​force·​ment | \ ˌrē-ən-ˈfȯrs-mənt How to pronounce reinforcement (audio) \

Definition of reinforcement

1 : the action of strengthening or encouraging something : the state of being reinforced
2 : something that strengthens or encourages something: such as
a : an addition of troops, supplies, etc., that augments the strength of an army or other military force usually plural About 8 a.m. Soviet tanks and armored personnel carriers containing reinforcements approached the gorge from the right flank.— John Barron
b : something designed to provide additional strength (as in a weak area) a bridge in need of steel reinforcements
c : a response to someone's behavior that is intended to make that person more likely to behave that way again positive/negative reinforcement
3 psychology : the action of causing a subject to learn to give or to increase the frequency of a desired response that in classical conditioning involves the repeated presentation of an unconditioned stimulus (such as the sight of food) paired with a conditioned stimulus (such as the sound of a bell) and that in operant conditioning involves the use of a reward following a correct response or a punishment following an incorrect response also : the reward, punishment, or unconditioned stimulus used in reinforcement

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Examples of reinforcement in a Sentence

“We're outnumbered! Call for reinforcements!” We need to prevent enemy reinforcements from reaching the front line. The bridge is in need of reinforcement. You should encourage good behavior with positive reinforcement.
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Recent Examples on the Web

American troops suffered heavy losses but had the advantage of reinforcements. Alex Horton, Washington Post, "Thousands of Japanese fought in a bloody World War II battle for the Aleutians. Only 28 survived.," 24 May 2018 Membranous wings, which have veins that provide strength and reinforcement during flight, were thought to be an extremely rare quality among dinosaurs. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Whoa, Look at This Bird-Bat Dinosaur," 8 May 2019 But beyond the immediate positive reinforcement, social media gave me a way to connect with the fitness community on a deeper level. Julia Sullivan, SELF, "How I Went From Hating Exercise to Becoming a Fitness Instructor in 5 Years," 3 May 2019 Studies have shown that when people are given positive reinforcement before a challenge, DHEA levels outweigh those of cortisol, which is associated with negative responses such as impaired immune function and even depression. Kate Branch, Vogue, "Now, Experts Say Stress Can Be Good for Your Health—Really," 18 Dec. 2018 The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is researching new long-range smart weapons designed to devastate attacking enemy forces, buying time for the U.S. to send reinforcements in a hypothetical future engagement. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Pentagon Is Reviving Cold War “Assault Breaker” Concept to Thwart China, Russia," 4 Mar. 2019 Minor-league moves: While Thames won't be joining Colorado Springs until Wednesday, the Sky Sox got a couple reinforcements behind the plate for Tuesday's game, Jacob Nottingham and Jett Bandy. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The comeback has begun for injured Eric Thames. But what's next? And when will he be back?," 5 June 2018 Even if the Jets successfully recruit Kirk Cousins, there should be plenty left over for Suh, who could form a nice tandem with Leonard Williams on a D-line suddenly in need of reinforcement. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "Nine NFL teams that would make sense for Ndamukong Suh," 12 Mar. 2018 The two-story house, built without permits, lacked earthquake reinforcements, even though Casamicciola sits on a dormant volcano in a zone susceptible to mudslides and quakes. Eric Sylvers, WSJ, "Italy Allows Illegal Homes to Be Rebuilt, Earthquake Zone or Not," 2 Mar. 2019

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

1602, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for reinforcement

Last Updated

4 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reinforcement

The first known use of reinforcement was in 1602

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More Definitions for reinforcement

reinforcement

noun

English Language Learners Definition of reinforcement

: people and supplies that are sent to help or support an army, military force, etc.
: the act of strengthening or encouraging something
: a thing that strengthens or encourages something

reinforcement

noun
re·​in·​force·​ment | \ ˌrē-ən-ˈfȯr-smənt How to pronounce reinforcement (audio) \

Kids Definition of reinforcement

1 : people or things (as supplies) sent to help or support
2 : the act of making something stronger or able to last longer The bridge is in need of reinforcement.

reinforcement

noun
re·​in·​force·​ment | \ ˌrē-ən-ˈfōr-smənt, -ˈfȯr- How to pronounce reinforcement (audio) \

Medical Definition of reinforcement

: the action of causing a subject (as a student or an experimental animal) to learn to give or to increase the frequency of a desired response that in classical conditioning involves the repeated presentation of an unconditioned stimulus (as the sight of food) paired with a conditioned stimulus (as the sound of a bell) and that in operant conditioning involves the use of a reward following a correct response or a punishment following an incorrect response also : the reward, punishment, or unconditioned stimulus used in reinforcement — compare recruitment sense 1

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