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deterrent Syllabification: de·ter·rent
Pronunciation: /dəˈtərənt/

Definition of deterrent in English:


1A thing that discourages or is intended to discourage someone from doing something.
Example sentences
  • Disulfiram is a well established drug that acts as a deterrent to drinking by blocking the metabolism of alcohol and thus flooding the body with the toxic substance acetaldehyde.
  • Penalty rates, which once acted as a limited deterrent to employers demanding excessive overtime, were either scrapped or severely cut back.
  • To the front of these again is the infamous crash barrier, which should act as a deterrent to ramming but is already showing the dents brought on consistent efforts to get through.
disincentive, discouragement, damper, curb, check, restraint;
obstacle, hindrance, impediment, obstruction, block, barrier, inhibition
1.1A nuclear weapon or weapons system regarded as deterring an enemy from attack.
Example sentences
  • First, the submarine-launched ballistic system was recognized as the most survivable element in the triad of strategic nuclear deterrents.
  • France and the United Kingdom each rely on just four submarines for their independent nuclear deterrents.
  • Another was submarine-launched ballistic missiles as a part of the nuclear deterrent of the superpowers.


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Able or intended to deter: the deterrent effect of heavy prison sentences
More example sentences
  • And the legal system generally takes the view that the value of using speech as evidence justifies this indirect deterrent effect.
  • But a great deal of recent evidence strengthens the claim that capital punishment has large deterrent effects.
  • There is substantial doubt that capital punishment has any significant deterrent effect.


Early 19th century: from Latin deterrent- 'deterring', from the verb deterrere (see deter).

Words that rhyme with deterrent

aberrant, errant, inherent, knight-errant
Definition of deterrent in:
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