de·​ter·​rent di-ˈtər-ənt How to pronounce deterrent (audio)
: serving to discourage, prevent, or inhibit : serving to deter
The ads had a deterrent effect on youth smoking.
: relating to deterrence
a deterrent view of punishment
deterrent noun
deterrently adverb

Examples of deterrent in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This isn’t the only deterrent job creators confront. David Flemming, Hartford Courant, 3 Mar. 2024 Similar to deterrent polish, the taste of hand lotion isn’t any better. India Espy-Jones, Essence, 22 May 2024 Nuclear attack could still disrupt a grid, to say nothing of the resulting concurrent deaths, but Chaudhary sees base resilience as its own kind of further deterrent action against such threats. Kelsey D. Atherton, Popular Science, 13 Sep. 2023 Reality: Many experts say that there’s little evidence for a deterrent effect. Megan Specia, New York Times, 16 Jan. 2024 But so far, these measures don't appear to have had a deterrent effect. Shannon K. Crawford, ABC News, 15 Jan. 2024 The secrecy undercuts the deterrent effect on officer behavior that many had presumed body cameras would produce. Eric Umansky, ProPublica, 14 Dec. 2023 Once a sizeable segment of any species realizes the lack of actual harm, its deterrent effect may wane. Anthony Trotter, ABC News, 31 Oct. 2023 Parity may play a political role by making arms control agreements appear fair or implying the adequacy of a state’s forces, but there is no strategic or deterrent logic to it. Charles L. Glaser, Foreign Affairs, 5 Oct. 2023

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1829, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of deterrent was in 1829

Dictionary Entries Near deterrent

Cite this Entry

“Deterrent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


de·​ter·​rent di-ˈtər-ənt How to pronounce deterrent (audio)
: able or acting to deter
deterrent noun
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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