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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web In the procedural hearing, Judge Howard M. Maltz informed Fucci of his rights, the charges and the probable cause to detain him. Marlene Lenthang, ABC News, 28 May 2021 Caught unawares The extraordinary steps taken to detain him amounted to the hijacking of a commercial flight and a violation of air travel protocol. Viktoria Dendrinou, Fortune, 25 May 2021 Shortly after, an officer approached Nagaishi and a photographer to detain them. Perry Vandell, The Arizona Republic, 19 May 2021 In addition to the hate crime charges, the indictment alleges all three defendants attempted to unlawfully seize and confine Arbery in an attempt to restrict his free movement and detain him against his will. Erin Donaghue, CBS News, 12 May 2021 The man visibly resisted when officers tried to detain him. Rafael Olmeda, sun-sentinel.com, 7 May 2021 One woman gave officers a short foot chase down the block after fleeing officers who tried to detain her. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, 5 May 2021 Jerry Jones is now supposedly all-in on defense, which would be news to Antwaun Woods, the rare Cowboy last season who could consistently A.) identify someone with a football and B.) detain him until backup arrived. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, 5 May 2021 Federal prosecutors also said the men chased Mr. Arbery in their trucks in an attempt to restrain and detain him against his will. Sadie Gurman, WSJ, 28 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for detain

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for detain

Last Updated

15 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Detain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/detain. Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

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

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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