Definition of detent in English:

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Pronunciation: /dəˈtent/


1A catch in a machine that prevents motion until released.
Example sentences
  • Within the gearbox, the mechanical plunger and spring detent arrangement have given way to a pneumatic setup.
  • With the action opened, two spring loaded detents at the front end of the magazine tube are pressed simultaneously which allows the tube to move far enough forward so that the barrel, magazine tube, and forearm may be unscrewed as a unit.
  • The motor itself has a skewed rotor like those found in inkjet printers which eliminates the detent torque that would coarsen the feel.
1.1(In a clock) a catch that regulates striking.
Example sentences
  • As will be seen from the following photos, the detent, which is the heart of the chronometer escapement and gives it its accuracy, has been badly damaged and had to be replaced.
  • If the number of blows struck is different to the hour shown lift the detent & the clock will strike one more than the previous count.


Late 17th century (denoting a catch in clocks and watches): from French détente, from Old French destente, from destendre 'slacken', from des- (expressing reversal) + Latin tendere 'to stretch'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: de·tent

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