detain

verb
de·​tain | \ di-ˈtān How to pronounce detain (audio) , dē- \
detained; detaining; detains

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

Other Words from detain

detainment \ di-​ˈtān-​mənt How to pronounce detain (audio) , dē-​ \ 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.
Recent Examples on the Web Ukraine has requested that Turkish authorities detain a Russian-flagged ship carrying Ukrainian grain, the nation's ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, told CNN on Saturday. Adam Pourahmadi, CNN, 4 July 2022 That these civilians took it upon them on their own to take him in, to detain him, to stop his movements. Justin Raystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2022 Last week, a court in the Pacific island nation of Fiji ordered local law enforcement to detain the 348-foot Amadea superyacht, a $325 million vessel, at the request of U.S. authorities seeking to seize the vessel. John Hyatt, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2022 Russian police officers detain a man during an unsanctioned protest rally against the military invasion of Ukraine, March 6, 2022 in Moscow. CBS News, 10 Mar. 2022 Wright, who was unarmed, resisted as the officers attempted to detain him. Annabelle Timsit, Washington Post, 22 June 2022 California’s ban affects private facilities contracted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain immigrants. Rebecca Schneid, Los Angeles Times, 21 June 2022 Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said at a press conference Sunday afternoon that a police officer responding to gunshots in the area witnessed a man firing a gun into a crowd and attempted to detain him. Bill Hutchinson, ABC News, 6 June 2022 Cruz located one of the teens and attempted to detain him, but the teen ran. Emilie Eaton, San Antonio Express-News, 25 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for detain

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near detain

detail work

detain

detainee

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Statistics for detain

Last Updated

2 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Detain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/detain. Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for detain

detain

verb
de·​tain | \ di-ˈtān How to pronounce detain (audio) \
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.

detain

transitive verb
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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