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

The refueling mission is critical to the future of the Navy, particular in its deterrence role in the Western Pacific. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Boeing wins bid to build the Navy’s carrier-launched tanker drone," 31 Aug. 2018 The war games, which finished last week, has become a major part of NATO’s deterrence measures against Russia and offers a chance for troops to focus on speed. Carlo Angerer /, NBC News, "NATO focuses on speed in the Baltics amid worries over Russia," 23 June 2018 Another four combatant commands oversee key warfare areas—cyberwarfare, special operations forces, global transportation and strategic deterrence, including against potential nuclear threats. Nancy A. Youssef, WSJ, "Trump Directs Pentagon to Set Up a Space Command," 18 Dec. 2018 Currently, this is handled through US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), the group mostly responsible for nuclear deterrence. Loren Grush, The Verge, "Space Command is coming back, but Space Force still needs approval from Congress," 18 Dec. 2018 The Trump administration has said zero-tolerance and family separation were part of a broader effort to deter would-be border crossers from trying to sneak into the U.S. The Obama administration also used family detention as a deterrence. Alicia A. Caldwell, WSJ, "Inside a Texas Detention Facility for Immigrant Families," 10 Aug. 2018 Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images Currently the warfighting chain of command for space is overseen by STRATCOMM, which is mostly focused on nuclear deterrence and global strike. Loren Grush, The Verge, "The Trump administration wants Space Force running by 2020," 9 Aug. 2018 And in recent speeches around the country, Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, has made a spirited case for it, arguing that a strict approach is a vital tool for deterrence. New York Times, "Trump Again Falsely Blames Democrats for His Separation Tactic," 16 June 2018 The MeToo movement has showed, if nothing else, how the deterrence around disrupting a power circuit from which many people benefit is perhaps even more harmful and cruel to victims than the abuse itself. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Dr. Christine Blasey Ford Is a Whistleblower," 26 Sep. 2018

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.

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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

The first known use of deterrence was in 1861

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English Language Learners Definition of deterrence

: the act of making someone decide not to do something : the act of preventing a particular act or behavior from happening
politics : the policy of developing a lot of military power so that other countries will not attack your country


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

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Spanish Central: Translation of deterrence

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

Comments on deterrence

What made you want to look up deterrence? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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