de·​ter·​rent | \ di-ˈtər-ənt How to pronounce deterrent (audio) , -ˈter-; -ˈtə-rənt, -ˈte-; dē-\

Definition of deterrent

1 : serving to discourage, prevent, or inhibit : serving to deter The ads had a deterrent effect on youth smoking.
2 : relating to deterrence a deterrent view of punishment

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Other Words from deterrent

deterrent noun
deterrently adverb

Examples of deterrent in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The outgoing head of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command has warned that if the United States does not take punitive or deterrent action against Russia, its malicious activity will continue. Washington Post, "Trump administration hits Russian spies, trolls with sanctions over U.S. election interference, cyberattacks," 15 Mar. 2018 However, Russia's nuclear cruise and torpedo weapons are, from an arms control standpoint, not exactly deterrent-focused weapons. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Putin boasts new strategic weapons will make US missile defense “useless”," 1 Mar. 2018 State Department officials said the threat of sanctions had been deterrent enough. Associated Press, Houston Chronicle, "New Russia sanctions kick in - but U.S. opts to punish nobody," 29 Jan. 2018 The deterrent effect of this penalty will be close to nil. Michael Hiltzik,, "A slap on CashCall's wrist signals there's no downside to deceiving borrowers," 26 Jan. 2018 And there have been reports that the United States and the world’s other nuclear powers are dusting off Cold War deterrent protocols. Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Washington Post, "Nuclear sub sailors fired after ‘absolutely disgraceful’ parties with a prostitute and cocaine," 28 Oct. 2017 The pain of it should be deterrent enough to never make the mistake twice. Lydia Lohrer, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan bowhunting season: 6 tips for novices as sport has big surge," 30 Sep. 2017 Maguire also argued that the deterrent effect of a traffic stop by an officer, and the discretion of an officer in issuing a citation or a warning, are more effective methods of battling the problem. Robert Salonga, The Mercury News, "Speed-camera trial for San Jose, San Francisco dies in Assembly," 26 Apr. 2017 Among the many, many issues our forebears didn’t worry about were the deterrent effects of capital punishment and the ideal attributes of a firefighter. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, "Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds," 27 Feb. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deterrent.' 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 deterrent

1829, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for deterrent

Latin deterrent-, deterrens, present participle of deterrēre to deter

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Time Traveler for deterrent

The first known use of deterrent was in 1829

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More Definitions for deterrent


de·​ter·​rent | \ di-ˈtər-ənt, -ˈter-\

Kids Definition of deterrent

: something that makes someone decide not to do something The alarm is a deterrent against theft.

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