- the locking piece of a mechanism, often spring-loaded to check the movement of a wheel in one direction only
WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2015
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.
- French détente, Old French destente, derivative of destendre to relax, equivalent. to des- dis-1 + tendre to stretch; see tender2