Definition of detente in US English:


(also détente)


  • The easing of hostility or strained relations, especially between countries.

    ‘a serious effort at detente with the eastern bloc’
    • ‘The description aptly described the new diplomacy of detente emerging from the 1972 super-power summit.’
    • ‘During the Cold War there were periods of detente when arms control played a part in helping to enhance confidence between the adversaries.’
    • ‘In 1972, detente allowed diplomatic relations and closer economic ties between East and West Germany.’
    • ‘The chief architects of the superpower detente were President Richard Nixon and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger.’
    • ‘The only difference was that now, in line with the policy of detente, in place of one German nation there were two: one socialist and one capitalist.’
    • ‘The policy of detente was scrapped and the objective was increasingly to roll back the Soviet Union.’
    • ‘Equally important, a peace settlement with Washington is needed to defuse the military standoff at the 38th parallel, where a conflict could explode at any time, bringing detente to a halt.’
    • ‘By the early 1970s detente had become the policy of the day.’
    • ‘It is certainly unlikely at the moment that geopolitical stability can be achieved by the formation of some new detente like the one that terrified us into peace during the Cold War.’
    • ‘So far Russia has been able to stymie further detente with Nato by delaying promised agreements on military co-operation and by threatening the arms control process.’
    • ‘For the neo-conservatives, Henry Kissinger's policy of arms control and detente with the Soviet Union smacked of appeasement.’
    • ‘Cuba will make every effort to preserve the atmosphere of détente and mutual respect that has prevailed in that area in the past few years.’
    • ‘The policy of détente was abandoned and, under the Reagan administration, an increasingly aggressive policy was pursued towards the Soviet Union.’
    • ‘Despite the policy of détente, the antagonism with the Soviet Union was still the dominant factor in world politics.’
    • ‘They are nostalgic for the good old days of detente - superpower summits, arms control, and discussions about balancing American and Russian power in regional conflicts.’
    • ‘While he concludes with a proposal for detente, his own account shows that these disputes are likely to be as intractable as they are longstanding.’
    • ‘Throughout the Cold War, there were a mix of policies that liberals supported: containment, detente, non-proliferation, and arms control.’
    • ‘After that Ostpolitik became fully integrated into the general process of superpower détente and East-West disarmament negotiations which had slowly begun in the course of 1970.’
    restoration of friendly relations, restoration of harmony, agreement, compromise, understanding, peace, an end to hostilities, amity, concord
    View synonyms


Early 20th century: from French détente, ‘loosening, relaxation’.