1. a combining form of counter3, used with the meanings “against,” “contrary,” “opposite,” “in opposition or response to” (countermand); “complementary,” “in reciprocation,” “corresponding,” “parallel” (counterfoil; counterbalance); “substitute,” “duplicate” (counterfeit).

Origin of counter-

Middle English countre-; see counter3 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for counter-


  1. against; opposite; contrarycounterattack
  2. complementary; correspondingcounterfoil
  3. duplicate or substitutecounterfeit

Word Origin for counter-

via Norman French from Latin contrā against, opposite; see contra-
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for counter-

word-forming element meaning "against; in return; corresponding," from Anglo-French countre-, French contre-, from Latin contra "opposite, contrary to, against, in return," also used as a prefix (see contra-).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

counter- in Medicine


  1. Contrary; opposite; opposing:countertransport.
  2. Corresponding; complementary:counterincision.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.