detain

verb
de·tain | \di-ˈtān, dē-\

Definition of detain 

transitive verb

1 : to hold or keep in or as if in custody detained by the police for questioning

2 obsolete : to keep back (something due) : withhold

3 : to restrain especially from proceeding was detained by a flat tire

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Other Words from detain

detainment \-mənt \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for detain

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

delay, retard, slow, slacken, detain mean to cause to be late or behind in movement or progress. delay implies a holding back, usually by interference, from completion or arrival. bad weather delayed our arrival retard suggests reduction of speed without actual stopping. language barriers retarded their progress slow and slacken also imply a reduction of speed, slow often suggesting deliberate intention medication slowed the patient's heart rate , slacken an easing up or relaxing of power or effort. on hot days runners slacken their pace detain implies a holding back beyond a reasonable or appointed time. unexpected business had detained her

Examples of detain in a Sentence

They were detained by the police for questioning. He claimed he had been illegally detained. Unexpected business had detained her.
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Recent Examples on the Web

For the government, the agreement ensures its authority to detain adults in federal custody remains intact while families are reunified. Kartikay Mehrotra, BostonGlobe.com, "Reunited immigrant families face difficult choice: try to stay legally or leave children in the US," 14 July 2018 The Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office operates the jail in Richmond, and the county has a contract with ICE to detain immigrants. Otis R. Taylor Jr., SFChronicle.com, "Richmond’s Mayor Butt meets ICE detainees," 12 July 2018 Days after taking office, Trump said anyone in the U.S. without authorization was a priority for deportation, and directed Customs and Border Protection to detain every unauthorized immigrant caught crossing the border until their case was resolved. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Returns to ‘Catch and Release’ for Migrant Families – But Maybe Not for Long," 11 July 2018 The Trump administration has asked Judge Dolly M. Gee of Federal District Court in Los Angeles to amend the Flores settlement to allow children to be detained for longer periods of time. New York Times, "As Migrant Families Are Reunited, Some Children Don’t Recognize Their Mothers," 10 July 2018 The Trump Administration is currently seeking the legal authority to detain kids with their parents indefinitely. Maya Rhodan, Time, "Some 3,000 Migrant Kids Are Still Separated From Their Parents. The Trump Administration Is Using DNA Tests to Match Them," 5 July 2018 Consequently, Guzman Colindres and her son are likely to be detained somewhere together until their asylum application is heard, according to Adams. Nina Shapiro, The Seattle Times, "Immigration judge in Tacoma denies bond for mom separated from son," 3 July 2018 Earlier this month, Trump signed an executive order reversing his administration's policy of separating children from their parents at the border and allowing families to instead be detained together. Adam Edelman /, NBC News, "Pence tells Central American leaders: End the exodus, respect U.S. borders," 29 June 2018 The surge in detainees to about 40,000 has followed a nationwide crackdown on undocumented immigrants already in the country as well as a policy adopted in April to detain people crossing the border illegally, separating parents from their children. Fortune, "Prison Operators Could Cash In on ‘Zero Tolerance’ Immigration Policy," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'detain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of detain

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for detain

Middle English deteynen, from Anglo-French deteign-, stem of detenir, modification of Latin detinēre, from de- + tenēre to hold — more at thin

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Statistics for detain

Last Updated

7 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for detain

The first known use of detain was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for detain

detain

verb

English Language Learners Definition of detain

: 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

detain

verb
de·tain | \di-ˈtān \
detained; detaining

Kids Definition of detain

1 : to hold or keep in or as if in prison The suspect was detained by police.

2 : to stop from going on : delay Snow detained our flight.

de·tain

Legal Definition of detain 

1 : to hold or keep in custody or possession property wrongfully detained a juvenile detained in a care facility

2 : to restrain from proceeding detained the driver and asked to see his license

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More from Merriam-Webster on detain

Spanish Central: Translation of detain

Nglish: Translation of detain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of detain for Arabic Speakers

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