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[dih-tur-uh nt, -tuhr-, -ter-] /dɪˈtɜr ənt, -ˈtʌr-, -ˈtɛr-/
serving or tending to deter.
something that deters:
a deterrent to crime.
military strength or an ability to defend a country or retaliate strongly enough to deter an enemy from attacking.
Origin of deterrent
1820-30; < Latin dēterrent- (stem of dēterrēns), present participle of dēterrēre. See deter, -ent
Related forms
deterrently, adverb
nondeterrent, adjective
2. restraint, curb, check, hindrance. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for deterrent
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was at once a deterrent from crime and a vindication of the majesty of the law.

    The Story of Cooperstown Ralph Birdsall
  • This is only an imitation of nature, in which pain is a sanction and a deterrent.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • It was almost impossible that she could know anything of the deterrent force exercised on Swithin by his dead uncle that morning.

    Two on a Tower Thomas Hardy
  • Here we have a recrudescence of the idea that great penalties are deterrent.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • This is a deterrent which only acts beneficially when punishment is certain, or nearly certain.

    London Walter Besant
British Dictionary definitions for deterrent


something that deters
a weapon or combination of weapons, esp nuclear, held by one state, etc, to deter attack by another
tending or used to deter; restraining
Derived Forms
deterrence, noun
Word Origin
C19: from Latin dēterrēns hindering; see deter
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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Word Origin and History for deterrent

1829, noun and adjective, in Bentham, from Latin deterrentem, present participle of deterrere (see deter). In reference to nuclear weapons, from 1954.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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