de·​tent ˈdē-ˌtent How to pronounce detent (audio)
: a device (such as a catch, dog, or spring-operated ball) for positioning and holding one mechanical part in relation to another in a manner such that the device can be released by force applied to one of the parts

Examples of detent in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This truly exceptional work of horological art is housed in a 66.5mm yellow gold case and features a perpetual calendar, a tourbillon, and a hand-wound movement with a spring detent escapement. Oren Hartov, Robb Report, 12 June 2023 Three detents control soap output from high to low, but water flow for rinsing is continuously variable. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, 25 Apr. 2023 Push down through a detent deep in the accelerator's travel, and the icon turns green. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, 22 Mar. 2023 Then, stepping on the accelerator and mashing it down through a palpable click triggers a mechanism called a detent that tells the car to get moving. Kristin Shaw, Popular Science, 27 Mar. 2023 But a detent in the accelerator travel helps drivers avoid waking the engine. John Voelcker, Car and Driver, 26 Sep. 2022 The watch is a regulator (the hour and minute hands are shown on two separate dials) fitted with a pivoted detent escapement. Victoria Gomelsky, Robb Report, 6 June 2022 Reverse is up and to the left of first gear, and its detent—pushing down on the shifter—does not exactly require the hand of a seven-foot-tall bouncer with brass knuckles. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, 14 Apr. 2022 Going beyond the detent brings in the internal combustion engine. Jeff Yip, Houston Chronicle, 13 Sep. 2019 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'detent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French détente, from Middle French destente, from destendre to slacken, from Old French, from des- de- + tendre to stretch, from Latin tendere — more at thin

First Known Use

1688, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of detent was in 1688

Dictionary Entries Near detent

Cite this Entry

“Detent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

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