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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.
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).



Example sentences
  • When it was developed during the cold war, the US-built Trident was regarded as a weapon of deterrence.
  • So it is a mistake to say that nuclear weapons are about deterrence and survival.
  • But the new deterrence cannot be reasoned as a simple re-orientation of weapons that do not mandate use.

Definition of deterrent in:

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