de·​ter·​rence | \ di-ˈtər-ən(t)s How to pronounce deterrence (audio) , -ˈter- How to pronounce deterrence (audio) , -ˈtə-rən(t)s, -ˈte-; dē- \

Definition of deterrence

: the act or process of deterring: such as
a : the inhibition of criminal behavior by fear especially of punishment
b : the maintenance of military power for the purpose of discouraging attack nuclear deterrence

Examples of deterrence in a Sentence

The author argues that deterrence is no longer the best way to prevent war.
Recent Examples on the Web McMaster stressed that a bipartisan approach is crucial for the present moment, and that there will be time down the line for debate about why deterrence failed to stop Putin from invading in the first place. Matt Egan, CNN, 23 Mar. 2022 If the ultimate measure of the administration’s effectiveness is full deterrence of an invasion, the answer would be no. Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 2022 In Lake Tahoe, the unwelcoming party was hardly a deterrence. Rachel Levin, Outside Online, 15 Apr. 2021 Strategists will debate for years whether openly taking the military option off the table undermined deterrence of the Russian invasion. John Yoo, National Review, 19 Mar. 2022 Strong sanctions earlier could have lead to a deterrence of Putin, said U.S. Rep. French Hill, a Republican from Little Rock. Ryan Tarinelli, Arkansas Online, 2 Mar. 2022 Criminals, especially those who commit gun offenses, should face stricter mandatory sentences as a deterrence mechanism, said Brooks, 79. Sam Janesch, Baltimore Sun, 8 June 2022 This all means classical deterrence mechanisms like harsh punishment or armed security at the door do little to prevent mass shootings. Time, 7 June 2022 The possibility of this kind of conventional attack weakens a crucial pillar of U.S. defense policy: nuclear deterrence. Jason Sherman, Scientific American, 2 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deterrence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of deterrence

1861, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for deterrence

see deter

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Time Traveler for deterrence

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The first known use of deterrence was in 1861

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Last Updated

27 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Deterrence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for deterrence


de·​ter·​rence | \ di-ˈtər-ən(t)s, -ˈter-; -ˈtə-rən(t)s; dē- \

Medical Definition of deterrence

: the inhibition of criminal behavior by fear especially of punishment


de·​ter·​rence | \ di-ˈtər-əns, -ˈter- How to pronounce deterrence (audio) \

Legal Definition of deterrence

: the inhibition of criminal behavior by fear especially of punishment

More from Merriam-Webster on deterrence

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for deterrence

Britannica English: Translation of deterrence for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about deterrence


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