from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Tending to deter.
  • noun Something that deters.
  • noun A retaliatory means of discouraging enemy attack.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Having the power or tendency to deter; hindering through fear; preventive.
  • noun That which deters or tends to deter.
  • noun A substance used in the manufacture of smokeless powder to moderate the violence of the explosion and to diminish sensitiveness to shock. Vaseline, camphor, etc., are so employed.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Serving to deter.
  • noun That which deters or prevents.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Serving to deter, preventing something from happening
  • noun Something that deters.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun something immaterial that interferes with or delays action or progress
  • adjective tending to deter


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • It would seem that shutting off cell phone service in subway tunnels as a deterrent is a waste of time.

    Boing Boing: July 10, 2005 - July 16, 2005 Archives 2005

  • And I think sometimes they will do it for, you know, what they call deterrent value, to let the other 2,000 people out there in their situation know that you better not cross the line or this is what's going to happen to you.

    CNN Transcript Jun 15, 2003 2003

  • In the matter of defence, we should not overlook the fact that one of the key elements in any adversary's assessment of the effectivenes of our deterrent is the state of the resolution and will of the North Atlantic Alliance.

    The World Around Us 1962

  • But the reason that this kind of deterrent is insufficient by itself is that the only thing the Board can do is to try to put Humpty Dumpty back together once the boss has smashed him on the ground.

    Matthew Yglesias » Economists for an Employee Free Choice Act 2009

  • In spite of the guarantees that such a "deterrent" is purported to offer, the very existence and availability of such terrible instruments of death and destruction constitutes a constant threat of catastrophe, about which scientists and the mass-media warn us again and again in the hope of inducing everyone, especially leaders, to reflect.

    The Papacy and the Challenge of the Modern World 1984

  • I really think that the Obama administration's decision to make this shift in our nuclear deterrent is ill advised.

    Obama brushes off Palin on nuclear deal 2010

  • New policy – no we can't – the deterrent is now gone.

    Obama brushes off Palin on nuclear deal 2010

  • Maintaining a nuclear deterrent is also important, although I understand why people find it distasteful.

    Leaders TV Debate – Law & Order Summary SHOCK! « POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG Inspector Gadget 2010

  • The deterrent is largely that terrorists not know which flights might have armed agents on board.

    Airlines Want to Bump Air Marshals to Coach Scott McCartney 2010

  • A bipartisan congressional commission, headed by some of our most experienced national security practitioners, recently concluded that a nuclear deterrent is essential to our defense for the foreseeable future.

    POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: June 29, 2009 2009


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