[dey-tahnt; French dey-tahnt]
noun, plural détentes [dey-tahnts; French dey-tahnt] .
a relaxing of tension, especially between nations, as by negotiations or agreements.
Also, detente.

1905–10; < French; see detent

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World English Dictionary
détente (deɪˈtɑːnt, French detɑ̃t)
the relaxing or easing of tension, esp between nations
[French, literally: a loosening, from Old French destendre to release, from tendre to stretch]

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Word Origin & History

political term is 1908 borrowing of Fr. détente "loosening, slackening," used in O.Fr. for the catch of a crossbow, from V.L. detendita, fem. pp. of detendere "loosen, release," from de- "from, away" + tendere "stretch" (see tenet).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
détente [(day-tahnt)]

A period of lessening tension between two major national powers, or a policy designed to lessen that tension. Détente presupposes that the two powers will continue to disagree but seeks to reduce the occasions of conflict.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences
Each time, there was an increased police presence and a flurry of arrests followed by a declared victory and then detente.
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