verb \di-ˈtān, dē-\

: to officially prevent (someone) from leaving a place : to hold or keep (someone) in a prison or some other place

: to keep or prevent (someone) from leaving or arriving at the expected time

Full Definition of DETAIN

transitive verb
:  to hold or keep in or as if in custody <detained by the police for questioning>
obsolete :  to keep back (as something due) :  withhold
:  to restrain especially from proceeding <was detained by a flat tire>
de·tain·ment \-mənt\ noun

Examples of DETAIN

  1. They were detained by the police for questioning.
  2. He claimed he had been illegally detained.
  3. Unexpected business had detained her.

Origin of DETAIN

Middle English deteynen, from Anglo-French deteign-, stem of detenir, modification of Latin detinēre, from de- + tenēre to hold — more at thin
First Known Use: 15th century


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