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The question is in the title. Actually, I need something of a synonym to "disencourage" and "demotivate" was the first word that came to my mind. Also, if it's possible to use "demotivate" with something not related to studying and/or job, which preposition should I use? I would try something like "demotivate from doing something", but I'm not 100% sure.

Edit: I've noticed a mistake just now: I mean "discourage", not "disencourage". As for the context, it's something like "demotivate young people from commiting crimes".

  • It is very difficult to answer questions that are framed in the negative. It is rather like saying, "What is a word that doesn't mean 'rabbit?'" -- there are too many answers. It also makes it difficult for us if you say, "do something". It's much better to use an actual verb and an actual thing. Please can you give an example of a scenario and a sentence where you would want to use the word? – chasly from UK Oct 18 '15 at 19:02
  • @chaslyfromUK I've edited the post – Dmitry Sopov Oct 18 '15 at 19:06
  • It doesn't work for me because it carries a sense of making them less enthusiastic. You don't want to make young people unenthusiastic. You want to make them more enthusiastic but about something different. Let's see if there are other opinions. – chasly from UK Oct 18 '15 at 19:17
  • Your question is pretty cool, imo, because people, young and old, can be motivated /have motivation to head in both positive AND negative directions, so why wouldn’t/couldn’t demotivation work both ways? I have no answer as to why or why not, but personally I’ve never seen demotivate/demotivation used positively to discourage someone [away] from negative behavior. – Papa Poule Oct 18 '15 at 19:30
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deter would be a much better fit here.

DETER

: to turn aside, discourage, or prevent from acting; she would not be deterred by threats

Streetworkers are trying to deter young people from committing crimes.

M-W

“Why the gruesome pictures? Because we hope to deter young people from committing the same crimes and because we hope that by looking at pictures relatives will recognize those missing. Because we’re filling a void by providing the raw truth, at a time when everyone wants to forget what’s happened to our country.”

Dallas Morning News

  • Thanks a lot! This is quite helpful. I'm sorry, I wasn't able to answer earlier – Dmitry Sopov Oct 26 '15 at 5:35
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To the extent that “demotivate/demotivation” implies that the “motivation” (to commit crimes, in your case) already exists and that the "goal" (again in this case) is to “remove” that motivation, in order to maintain at least some form of the word "motivation," you might need to use those two bolded words together (i.e., “remove motivation”) to capture this “positive” sense of “demotivate/demotivation”:

It is difficult to remove motivation from someone who is intent on committing a crime.

(from ‘Physical Security and Safety: A Field Guide for the Practitioner’ and Google Books)

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Demotivate normally carries negative connotations. So one would not normally talk about demotivating people from committing crime.

But discourage is neutral - it can imply something positive or negative. We discourage shoplifters, but equally we make discouraging remarks which people find hurtful.

So in the example you give discourage would seem a better choice than demotivate.

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You may dissuade somebody from doing something.

Definition: to deter by advice or persuasion; persuade not to do something; to advise against; To prevent (someone) from a purpose or course of action with conviction.

Example: I dissuaded my friend from pursuing such a rash scheme.

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