A deterrence discourages you from doing something. An invisible electric fence is an excellent deterrence for dogs who like to roam outside the yard.

You can influence someone's actions by promoting certain behaviors and discouraging others. And it's the discouragement part where deterrence comes in. A deterrence makes you reconsider doing something — usually bad things like stealing or skipping school — because you know the penalty will be harsh. Deterrences make you afraid to try something. So many homeowners hope that a security alarm will be a deterrence to burglars.

Definitions of deterrence
  1. noun
    a negative motivational influence
    synonyms: disincentive
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    incentive, inducement, motivator
    a positive motivational influence
    type of:
    rational motive
    a motive that can be defended by reasoning or logical argument
  2. noun
    the act or process of discouraging actions or preventing occurrences by instilling fear or doubt or anxiety
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    the act of discouraging
    nuclear deterrence
    the military doctrine that an enemy will be deterred from using nuclear weapons as long as he can be destroyed as a consequence
    type of:
    hinderance, hindrance, interference
    the act of hindering or obstructing or impeding
  3. noun
    a communication that makes you afraid to try something
    synonyms: determent, intimidation
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    type of:
    the expression of opposition and disapproval
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