WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2015
de•tent  (di tent), 
n. [Mach.]

    Mechanical Engineeringa mechanism that temporarily keeps one part in a certain position relative to that of another, and can be released by applying force to one of the parts.
Etymology:
  • French détente, Old French destente, derivative of destendre to relax, equivalent. to des- dis-1 + tendre to stretch; see tender2
  • 1680–90


Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

detent /dɪˈtɛnt/ n
  1. the locking piece of a mechanism, often spring-loaded to check the movement of a wheel in one direction only
Etymology: 17th Century: from Old French destente, a loosening, trigger: see détente



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