reinforcement

noun
re·​in·​force·​ment | \ˌrē-ən-ˈfȯrs-mənt \

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

Residents were understandably upset, with many noting that the alert system needed reinforcements. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "FEMA to Test Presidential Alert Wireless Emergency System," 15 Sep. 2018 Still, before the game, Cashman said the Yankees would not stand pat with their rotation, which needs reinforcement behind the ace Luis Severino, unless the price in a thin market for starting pitchers became prohibitive. New York Times, "Miguel Andujar Gives Yankees a Boost Against the Red Sox. And in the Trade Market?," 30 June 2018 Robot reinforcements, deployed for tough missions by the U.S. military in combat zones, can help save property and lives when wildfires strike the homeland. Allison Barrie, Fox News, "A military helicopter drone that can fight wildfires," 9 Aug. 2018 As a result, meta-analyses can sometimes throw findings of a group of studies into doubt, or provide even more rigorous reinforcement. Glenn Fleishman, Fortune, "Studies Identify Key Genes for Intelligence, Depression, ADHD, and Autism," 25 June 2018 Seeking defensive reinforcement, Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio brought on 39-year-old veteran Rafael Marquez to play in his fifth World Cup. James Ellingsworth, star-telegram, "Did that just happen? Mexico stuns defending champion Germany in World Cup upset," 17 June 2018 Graves wasn’t the only pitching reinforcement the Marlins called up in the wake of their 16-inning loss to the Giants the day before. Andre C. Fernandez, miamiherald, "Marlins prospect acquired in Yelich trade thriving since scary moment at the plate," 9 July 2018 The Nicaraguan city of Masaya was an opposition stronghold until Mr. Ortega called in police reinforcements from Managua on June 19 and took it back. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Russia in Central America, Again," 8 July 2018 The campaign to make mandatory paid sick leave a reality in San Antonio just got some statistical reinforcement. Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, "New study boosts local campaign for paid sick leave," 19 May 2018

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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Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

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

reinforcements : 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 \

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- \

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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