Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
March 13th, 2016
Episode 472 of 793 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 13, 2016 is: deter \di-TER\ verb 1 : to turn aside, discourage, or prevent from acting 2 : inhibit Examples: The heavy fines are meant to deter people from illegally dumping old computers and electronic devices. "The weather was chilly and the course was hilly, but it didn't deter 150 enthusiastic runners from competing in a race that helped raise thousands of dollars to support the Brantwood Children's Home Saturday morning." — Alvin Benn, The Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser, 14 Feb. 2016 Did you know? 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."