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To tempt somebody is to entice them to do something bad that they don't necessarily want to do. The understanding of the word carries elements of both persuasion and wickedness.

What would be a corresponding word meaning to persuade someone to do something virtuous?

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    Encourage is the first word that comes to my mind. – Othya Mar 19 '15 at 14:16
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    Mr. Wheeler - the OP is somewhat ambiguous, ie, do you seek an antonym for "tempt" or a term for "persuading someone to do something virtuous?" ? Please clarify or you will likely receive less than optimal responses. – user98990 Mar 19 '15 at 14:32
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    In a broader sense, the OP's understanding of the word tempt is inadequate. It includes the positive sense. "b. used about something that is good or attractive [emphasis added] The programmes are designed to tempt young people into engineering." (Macmillan macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/tempt ) – Kris Mar 19 '15 at 15:03
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    The title of the question does not match the body of the question. This question or title needs rewording. – Marv Mills Mar 19 '15 at 16:04
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    What makes you think there is an antonym? Which part of the meaning do you want to negate? To not persuade (i.e, to fail to tempt), or to persuade someone not to do something bad, or to persuade someone to do something virtuous? There are three predicates, so there's at least three ways to negate it. "Antonym" is a gradeschool concept that doesn't fit reality very well, but it works for simple oppositions like hot/cold, good/bad, rich/poor, etc. That's generally enough to keep the kids from asking questions the teacher can't answer. – John Lawler Mar 19 '15 at 16:29
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Galvanize:

verb

[WITH OBJECT]

1 Shock or excite (someone) into taking action:

the urgency of his voice galvanized them into action

2 (often as adjective galvanized) Coat (iron or steel) with a protective layer of zinc:

an old galvanized bucket


From the etymology, we notice that tempt is testing to isolate a vulnerability (for the purpose of exploitation):

c.1200, of the devil, flesh, etc., "draw or entice to evil or sin, lure (someone) from God's law; be alluring or seductive," from Old French tempter (12c.), from Latin temptare "to feel, try out, attempt to influence, test," a variant of tentare "handle, touch, try, test."

Galvanize is stimulating to protect against a known vulnerability:

1801, "stimulate by galvanic electricity," from French galvaniser, from galvanisme (see galvanism). Figurative sense of "excite, stimulate (as if by electricity)" first recorded 1853 (galvanic was in figurative use in 1807). Meaning "to coat with metal by means of galvanic electricity" (especially to plate iron with tin, but now typically to plate it with zinc) is from 1839.

The standard metaphor of galvanize refers to the electrical process that moves dissolved metal ions to the surface of a metal object as a protective coating.

  • Why would galvanize apply only to positive action? Why would it be much different from tempt, jolt, shock, startle, impel, stir, spur, prod, urge, motivate, stimulate, electrify, excite, rouse, arouse, awaken; invigorate, fire, animate, vitalize, energize, exhilarate, thrill, catalyze, inspire? (with inputs from Google) – Kris Mar 22 '15 at 6:12
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To persuade someone to do something virtuous? That would be inspire or motivate

Inspire TFD

Motivate TFD

P.S: Technically it's not an antonym. Antonym would be something like warn against.

  • Okay, assuming tempt does not mean all that in the first place :) – Kris Mar 19 '15 at 15:04
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The opposite of tempt is to discourage or repulse them from doing it.

Woops, sorry about that.

I'm wondering if a $2 word is going to detract from the impact of your writing here. Perhaps if there is not a word that can be easily found, it's better to use common language than to make readers peek in their dictionaries mid-sentence.

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