or de·tente

[dey-tahnt; French dey-tahnt]
See more synonyms for détente on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural dé·tentes [dey-tahnts; French dey-tahnt] /deɪˈtɑnts; French deɪˈtɑ̃t/.
  1. a relaxing of tension, especially between nations, as by negotiations or agreements.

Origin of détente

From French, dating back to 1905–10; see origin at detent
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for detente

policy, pause, precaution, easement

Examples from the Web for detente

Contemporary Examples of detente

Historical Examples of detente

British Dictionary definitions for detente


  1. the relaxing or easing of tension, esp between nations

Word Origin for détente

French, literally: a loosening, from Old French destendre to release, from tendre to stretch
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

Word Origin and History for detente

1908 as a political term, a borrowing of French détente "loosening, slackening" (used in the Middle Ages for the catch of a crossbow), from Vulgar Latin detendita, fem. past participle of Latin detendere "loosen, release," from de- "from, away" (see de-) + tendere "stretch" (see tenet). The reference is to a "relaxing" in a political situation. The French word was earlier borrowed as detent (1680s) "catch which regulates the strike in a clock."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

detente in Culture



A period of lessening tension between two major national powers, or a policy designed to lessen that tension. Détente presupposes that the two powers will continue to disagree but seeks to reduce the occasions of conflict.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.