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[dih-tent] /dɪˈtɛnt/
noun, Machinery.
a mechanism that temporarily keeps one part in a certain position relative to that of another, and can be released by applying force to one of the parts.
Origin of detent
1680-90; < French détente, Old French destente, derivative of destendre to relax, equivalent to des- dis-1 + tendre to stretch; see tender2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for detent
Historical Examples
  • The angle of the detent planes reduces the friction to almost nil.

    Time and Time-Tellers James W. Benson
  • This want undoubtedly led to the invention of the detent escapement.

  • This is connected with a clockwork and detent arrangement, which simultaneously opens a valve and actuates the lamp flame.

  • When the required number of hours have struck, the notch approaches the detent, the gravity of which allows it to fall therein.

    Time and Time-Tellers James W. Benson
  • The number of strokes depends on the distance which the count-wheel has to revolve before being stopped by the detent F.

    Time and Time-Tellers James W. Benson
  • But the pressure of the escape-wheel against the detent, and the consequent friction, prevent the pendulum from acting freely.

    Great Facts Frederick C. Bakewell
  • The soft iron tinned, which is attracted to the electro-magnet b, and liberates the detent.

    The Boy's Playbook of Science John Henry Pepper
  • When these crystals are warmed, the detent is lifted, and an outflow of light immediately begins.

  • The revolving figures on horseback are moved by a separate weight, and are set in motion by the freeing of a detent.

  • On the gun being fired the sudden forward impetus of the shell causes the detent pin to exert a backward pressure of 8-1/2 lbs.

    Deeds of a Great Railway G. R. S. Darroch
British Dictionary definitions for detent


the locking piece of a mechanism, often spring-loaded to check the movement of a wheel in one direction only See also pawl
Word Origin
C17: from Old French destente, a loosening, trigger: see détente
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
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