from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To inspire with hope, courage, or confidence.
  • transitive verb To give support to; foster.
  • transitive verb To stimulate; spur.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb 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 Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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


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

[Middle English encouragen, from Old French encoragier : en-, causative pref.; see en– + corage, courage; see courage.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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").


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  • encoURaGE

    April 22, 2008

  • 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

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

    October 4, 2009

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

    October 5, 2009