[ dih-tur-uhns, -tuhr-, -ter- ]
See synonyms for deterrence on
  1. the act of deterring, especially deterring a nuclear attack by the capacity or threat of retaliating.

Origin of deterrence

First recorded in 1860–65; deterr(ent) + -ence
  • Sometimes de·ter·ren·cy [dih-tur-uhn-see, -tuhr-, -ter-] /dɪˈtɜr ən si, -ˈtʌr-, -ˈtɛr-/ .

Words Nearby deterrence Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use deterrence in a sentence

Cultural definitions for deterrence


A military capability sufficiently strong to discourage any would-be aggressor from starting a war because of the fear of retaliation. (See balance of terror.)

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.