Sense: 1-5
Date: 1300-1400
Language: Old French
Origin: comptour, from Medieval Latin computatorium 'counting place', from Latin computare; COMPUTE
Sense: 6-7
Date: 1300-1400
Language: Old French
Origin: conteor, from conter; COUNT1
Sense: 8
Date: 1600-1700
Language: French
Origin: contre, from contre 'against'


1 noun
coun‧ter1 S3 [countable]
1DHF the place where you pay or are served in a shop, bank, restaurant etc:
He wondered if the girl behind the counter recognised him.
2DHF American English a long flat surface on top of a piece of furniture, especially in a kitchen [= worktop British English]

over the counter

MD drugs, medicines etc that are bought over the counter are ones that you can buy in a shop without a prescription from a doctor

under the counter

if you buy something under the counter, you buy it secretly and usually illegally:
It's risky, but you can get alcohol under the counter.
5DGB a small object that you use in some games that are played on a board
6T a piece of electrical equipment that counts something:
Set the video counter to zero before you press play.
Geiger counter
7TD a computer program that counts the number of people that have visited a website
8 an action that tries to prevent something bad from happening, or an argument that is used to prove that something is wrong
counter to
The road blocks were a counter to terrorist attacks in that area.

Dictionary results for "counter"
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