Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To inspire with hope, courage, or confidence; hearten.
  • transitive v. To give support to; foster: policies designed to encourage private investment.
  • transitive v. To stimulate; spur: burning the field to encourage new plant growth.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To mentally support; to motivate, give courage, hope or spirit.
  • v. To spur on, strongly recommend.
  • v. To foster, give help or patronage

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To give courage to; to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope; to raise, or to increase, the confidence of; to animate; enhearten; to incite; to help forward; -- the opposite of discourage.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To give courage to; inspire with courage, spirit, or firmness of mind; incite to action or perseverance.
  • To help forward; promote; give support to: as, to encourage manufactures.
  • To make stronger.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. inspire with confidence; give hope or courage to
  • v. spur on
  • v. contribute to the progress or growth of

Etymologies

Middle English encouragen, from Old French encoragier : en-, causative pref.; see en-1 + corage, courage; see courage.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English encoragen, from Anglo-Norman encoragier, from Old French encoragier from en- +‎ corage "courage". Displaced native Middle English belden, bielden ("to encourage") (from Old English bieldan ("to encourage")), Middle English bealden, balden ("to encourage") (from Old English bealdian ("to encourage, make bold")), Middle English herten ("to encourage, enhearten") (from Old English hiertan, hyrtan ("to enhearten")), Old English elnian ("to encourage, strengthen"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Mansfield say that the object of the exception in regard to Spain and Portugal was to encourage -- yes, to _encourage_ -- the smuggling trade.

    Memoir of the Life of John Quincy Adams.

  • In fact, the word encourage means “to put courage into, to give strength.”

    The Power of A Positive Mom

  • It's a great feeling to have a label encourage you to be more socially conscious and politically active.

    IGN Music

  • May I take this opportunity to again encourage NLM readers who are looking for spiritual reading to considering taking up The Rule of St. Benedict (a nice edition is published by Roman Catholic Books) and to consider monastic retreats and the monastic vocation as part of fostering a liturgical life.

    Pope Visits Important Benedictine Abbey of Montecassino

  • May I also take this opportunity to again encourage our priests, religious and laymen and women to also consider coordinating and beginning your own equivalent types of pilgrimages and retreats in your own regions.

    The Season of Pilgrimages and Retreats [UPDATED]

  • And another thing that I'd like to encourage is colleges of education.

    Schools Working To Increase Parental Involvement

  • And I once again encourage any willing Ontario residents to email your representatives and press them to:

    New Conference Board of Canada outrage

  • Does this emphasis upon physical pain encourage the rest of us to dig deeply into the handbag of our experience and come up with something serviceable, when, in reality, the problem is not actually a matter of hurt at all?

    On a scale of one to ten...

  • The reader who carefully peruses that bafflegab will observe that the only debate that the ECRI desires to encourage is one among journalists over how much self-censorship they should practice.

    European Union

  • All I can ask or encourage is that NASA mgmt do this whenever possible.

    Endeavour Heads to KSC - NASA Watch

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Comments

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  • Good point, ptero. It reminds me of the sad, sad case of the word awesome.

    October 5, 2009

  • Clearly a thing we should change; and I would encourage you in your efforts, Mr. Pterodactyl.

    October 4, 2009

  • Has anyone else noticed that "encourage" has lost the meaning of "give courage to" and is now just a synonym for "urge"? I don't understand this trend. Why change the meaning of "encourage", thus losing the original utility of the word, just to create a cumbersome synonym (two extra syllables!) for a word that's perfectly fine on its own?

    October 3, 2009

  • encoURaGE

    April 22, 2008