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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The rapprochement came at a crucial time when the U.S. needed to build a deterrent presence amid growing security threats in the region, Romualdez said. Jim Gomez, ajc, 20 Nov. 2022 The only real question is how big this deterrent effect will be. Tom Spiggle, Forbes, 15 June 2022 Figuring that the deterrent effect of the ABP program started after the first bans were handed out, the researchers divided the results into two categories: 2008 to 2012, and 2013 to 2017. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, 16 Mar. 2020 Anyone with an Internet connection and a little curiosity can see that, in the run-up to Putin’s invasion, Biden’s vice president, secretary of state, and national-security adviser all said the chance of sanctions would have a deterrent effect. Matthew Continetti, National Review, 26 Mar. 2022 However, there are no firm conclusions about the preventive or deterrent effect of international justice. Shelley Inglis, The Conversation, 15 Mar. 2022 The panel evaluates Russian President Vladimir Putin's immediate and long-term objectives and discusses how deterrent measures might be enhanced. CBS News, 16 Feb. 2022 And when perpetrators walk free, the deterrent effect of the justice system is undermined by a growing awareness that crimes are likely to go unpunished. James Cross, National Review, 27 July 2021 The $700 billion figure is on the higher end of public estimates of what is plausible, and those larger estimates assume sustained efforts and a deterrent effect of tougher enforcement. Richard Rubin, WSJ, 27 Apr. 2021 See More

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.

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 20 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


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