Word of the Day: counter

Word of the Day
May 5, 2016
counter (noun, verb, adjective, adverb)
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A man standing at a counter
As a noun, a counter is a flat surface found in stores or banks, where payment is taken or transactions are carried out. It is also a kind of long table or bar in a restaurant where customers can sit to eat, or, mainly in US English, the surface used for preparing food in kitchens (in the UK, this would more commonly be called a worktop). As an adverb, counter means 'in the opposite direction' or 'in oppostion' and, as an adjective, it means 'contrary or opposed to.' As a verb, it means 'to oppose' or 'to answer an attack with another one.'


Example sentences
Rodney took his vegetables to the counter to pay for them.
Leticia ate her lunch at the counter, rather than taking one of the individual tables.
Edward always wipes down the kitchen counters when he has finished cooking.
Fiona decided she couldn't marry Oliver; his beliefs ran counter to everything that was important to her.
I don't like the current government's policies, so it is nice to see a political party with a counter doctrine.
The locals countered the council's proposals for a new hotel with their own plans for a children's play area.
Ben hurled insults at Nina and she countered with some insults of her own.


Words often used with counter
over the counter: something you can buy freely, especially medicines that don't require a prescription. Example: "You will have to go to the doctor to get a prescription for antibiotics; you can't buy them over the counter."
Additional information
Counter is also a prefix that means 'contrary to' and is found in words like counterattack, counterclockwise (US), counterbalance, and counteract; sometimes a hyphen is optional, as in counter-attack or counter-revolution.
Did you know?
Under the counter (or under the table) refers to things being bought illegally, with the idea being that the transaction is hidden from sight. It also refers to payments for workers that are made illegally, without tax. Example: "Several books are banned in that country, but people still manage to buy them under the counter."
Counter dates back to the first half of the 14th century and comes from the Medieval Latin word computātorium, meaning 'a place for computing' (equivalent to the Latin word computā(re), meaning 'to compute', the Anglo-French and Old French word comptoir, and the Middle English word countour. As an adjective it dates back to the first half of the 15th century and comes from the Anglo-French word co(u)ntre or cuntre, the Old French word contre, and the late Middle English word countre.
Counter in other languages
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