Simple Definition of retain
: to continue to have or use (something)
: to keep (someone) in a position, job, etc.
: to pay for the work of (a person or business)
Examples of retain in a sentence
A landlord may retain part of your deposit if you break the lease.
They insisted on retaining old customs.
You will retain your rights as a citizen.
The TV show has retained its popularity for many years.
The company's goal is to attract and retain good employees.
The team failed to retain him, and he became a free agent.
They have decided to retain a firm to conduct a survey.
You may need to retain an attorney.
Origin of retain
Middle English reteinen, retainen, from Anglo-French retenir, reteigner, from Latin retinēre to hold back, restrain, from re- + tenēre to hold — more at thin
First Known Use: 15th century
Synonym Discussion of retain
keep, retain, detain, withhold, reserve mean to hold in one's possession or under one's control. keep may suggest a holding securely in one's possession, custody, or control <keep this while I'm gone>. retain implies continued keeping, especially against threatened seizure or forced loss <managed to retain their dignity even in poverty>. detain suggests a delay in letting go <detained them for questioning>. withhold implies restraint in letting go or a refusal to let go <withheld information from the authorities>. reserve suggests a keeping in store for future use <reserve some of your energy for the last mile>.
Rhymes with retain
abstain, again, air lane, airplane, amain, arcane, arraign, attain, Bahrain, Bassein, Beltane, biplane, birdbrain, block plane, bloodstain, boat train, brain drain, bugbane, campaign, champagne, champaign, Champlain, checkrein, chicane, chilblain, choke chain, chow mein, cinquain, cocaine, Cockaigne, Coltrane, coxswain, complain, constrain, contain, cordwain, cowbane, crackbrain, demesne, deplane, destain, detain, detrain, devein, disdain, distain, distrain, dogbane, domain, drivetrain, dumb cane, edge-grain, Elaine, enchain, enplane, entrain, ethane, explain, eyestrain, fast lane, fleabane, floatplane, floodplain, food chain, forebrain, Fort Wayne, Gawain, germane, Great Dane, grosgrain, half plane, henbane, hindbrain, house-train, humane, Hussein, Igraine, immane, inane, ingrain, insane, jack plane, lamebrain, left brain, lightplane, lo mein, long-chain, Lorraine, maintain, marchpane, membrane, methane, midbrain, migraine, Montaigne, montane, moraine, mortmain, Moulmein, mundane, neck-rein, New Spain, obtain, octane, ordain, pertain, plain-Jane, profane, propane, ptomaine, purslane, quatrain, raise Cain, refrain, remain, restrain, retrain, right brain, romaine, sailplane, sea-lane, seaplane, seatrain, split-brain, sustain, tailplane, tearstain, terrane, Touraine, towplane, triplane, Ukraine, unchain, urbane, vervain, vicereine, villein, volplane, warplane, wave train, wolfsbane
RETAIN Defined for Kids
Definition of retain for Students
1 : to keep or continue to use <They retain old customs.>
2 : to hold safe or unchanged <Lead retains heat.>
Word Root of retain
The Latin words tenēre, meaning “to hold,” gives us the roots ten and tain. Words from the Latin tenēre have something to do with holding. Something tenacious holds on and is not easily gotten rid of. To contain is to hold things together inside. To obtain is to get hold of. To retain is to continue to hold.
Medical Definition of retain
1: to hold or keep in <retain fluids>
2: to keep in mind or memory
Legal Definition of retain
1 : to keep in possession or use
2 : to keep in one's pay or service; specifically : to employ (as a lawyer) by paying a retainer
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up retain? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).