[dih-tur-uhnt, -tuhr-, -ter-]


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 formsde·ter·rent·ly, adverbnon·de·ter·rent, adjective

Synonyms for deterrent Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for deterrent

Contemporary Examples of deterrent

Historical Examples of deterrent

  • The ease of getting a livelihood acts as a deterrent to ambition.

    The Negro Farmer

    Carl Kelsey

  • It is a deterrent for others, not a healing process for the man himself.

  • The school has in most cases been a deterrent to their progress, rather than a help.

  • This is only an imitation of nature, in which pain is a sanction and a deterrent.


    William Graham Sumner

  • Here we have a recrudescence of the idea that great penalties are deterrent.


    William Graham Sumner

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 Formsdeterrence, noun

Word Origin for deterrent

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

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