Definition of deter in English:



[with object]
  • 1Discourage (someone) from doing something by instilling doubt or fear of the consequences.

    ‘only a health problem would deter him from seeking re-election’
    • ‘The rebels fear the charges will deter students from poorer backgrounds from applying to go to university.’
    • ‘Share prices have dived by 40% this week amid warnings that fear of terrorism is deterring customers.’
    • ‘The death penalty deters people from committing murder.’
    • ‘Maharaj believes that educating the public on the harmful effects of smoking marijuana is the key to deterring people from experimenting with this drug.’
    • ‘It is the lack of awareness and fear that deters people from getting themselves examined.’
    • ‘The simple fact is that even the rumor or thought of an area affected deters people from using the land.’
    • ‘All the academic evidence suggests fear of debt deters people from less prosperous backgrounds.’
    • ‘A social stigma against AIDS victims persists, which deters people from getting tested and treated for the disease.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, a minister yesterday said schools, colleges and universities must play their part in deterring young people from turning to extremism…’
    • ‘He said he wanted a balanced approach to asylum seekers, welcoming those in genuine fear of persecution but deterring economic migrants who had little to offer.’
    • ‘Whether by taking offenders out of circulation, or by deterring people from committing crimes in the first place, the evidence does seem to support the view that prison works.’
    • ‘It deters people from buying new bicycles, while at the same time there is a lucrative trade in stolen models and this has to be examined.’
    • ‘No doubt that will not deter him finishing the job his father faltered over.’
    • ‘Usually, the fear of victimisation deters people from making complaints against corrupt officials.’
    • ‘Fear of it can deter people from coming forward when they have seen a crime being committed.’
    • ‘It is damaging to our image and deters people from coming here.’
    • ‘Otley's businesses will be very glad because anything which deters people from coming to the town centre hurts them.’
    • ‘Some, however, doubt that a minimum five-year jail term will deter hardened criminals.’
    • ‘Tree valuations of $3000 and $5000 were deterring people from proceeding with removal applications, Mr Crosby said.’
    • ‘Most coaches are volunteers and the tyranny of distance often deters people from attending this type of course.’
    put off, discourage, dissuade, scare off
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Prevent the occurrence of.
      ‘strategists think not only about how to deter war, but about how war might occur’
      • ‘Future wars were to be deterred by the League of Nations, which would take collective action against aggressor states.’
      • ‘The point of the first war against Iraq was to deter such aggression wherever it might occur.’
      • ‘For St. Augustine, resorting to war as a necessary evil is acceptable when it deters greater evil and is pursued in the spirit of justice.’
      • ‘You can't suggest that legislation from the EU is hampering future growth and deterring entrepreneurship under Labour, but people want to.’
      • ‘Police officers will also make regular checks to deter the sale and use of drugs in discos and pubs.’
      • ‘States have a compelling interest in deterring, preventing, and punishing childhood sexual abuse.’
      • ‘He adopted the New Look strategy to meet the dual risk of deterring nuclear war and containing communist expansion.’
      • ‘Are we naive enough to think Britain alone would have had the armament to deter aggression during the Cold War?’
      • ‘After parasitizing about one-third of the larvae in a host cluster the wasp stops, apparently leaving a mark that deters further parasitism by other individuals.’
      • ‘But when it came to a decision to enforce that guarantee, the horror of war deterred it.’
      • ‘Corruption deters investment, hinders socio-economic development, undermines good governance, and distorts government policy thus leading to misallocation of resources.’
      • ‘It clearly makes nuclear weapons a tool for fighting a war, rather than deterring them.’
      • ‘Convicting doctors of manslaughter may satisfy a desire for retribution, but deters careful consideration of the ways of preventing tragedies from recurring.’
      • ‘The arrival of a police car would have forestalled or deterred such an attack by itself.’
      • ‘Councillors backed the plans which are part of a new strategy to deter, prevent and detect benefit fraud in the borough.’
      • ‘British police and security services are focused on how to deter, to prevent and to combat terrorist attacks here.’
      • ‘Informing on dealers can deter crime and prevent untold human misery, according to the campaign.’
      • ‘The Navy maintains, trains and equips combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and securing freedom of the seas.’
      • ‘To be sure, it has a general interest in peace and stability on the Asian mainland and a specific interest in deterring nuclear war between other states.’
      • ‘The order is aimed at deterring anti-social behaviour and preventing escalation of the behaviour, without recourse to criminal sanctions.’
      prevent, stop, put a stop to, avert, nip in the bud, fend off, turn aside, stave off, ward off, head off, shut out, block, intercept, halt, arrest, check, stay, keep, hinder, impede, hamper, obstruct, baulk, foil, thwart, obviate, frustrate, forestall, counteract, inhibit, hold back, curb, restrain, preclude, pre-empt, save, help
      View synonyms


Mid 16th century: from Latin deterrere, from de- ‘away from’ + terrere ‘frighten’.