de·​tain·​ee | \ di-ˌtā-ˈnē How to pronounce detainee (audio) , ˌdē-\

Definition of detainee

: a person held in custody especially for political reasons

Examples of detainee in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Records show Shenandoah receives nearly $82,000 a year from the Agriculture Department to feed the immigration detainees. CBS News, "Young immigrants detained in Virginia allege they were beaten while cuffed, left nude in cells," 21 June 2018 Records show Shenandoah receives nearly $82,000 a year from the Agriculture Department to feed the immigration detainees. Michael Biesecker,, "Young immigrants detained in Virginia center allege abuse," 21 June 2018 Inmates have filed lawsuits in recent years complaining of mold and leaking raw sewage, as well as lax security due to under-staffing that has resulted in inmates being raped and beaten by other detainees. Mike Hendricks, kansascity, "Secret investigation of Jackson County jail uncovered," 8 Feb. 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 As the children and parents experience the fallout of forced separation by US authorities, advocates are struggling to get even basic information about the location and status of these detainees. Liz Goodwin,, "Down on the border, a new trail of tears," 10 June 2018 Several detainees have untreated medical conditions, including a heart problem, gunshot wound and broken leg. Andrew Selsky, The Seattle Times, "Asylum-seekers endure horrible conditions in Oregon prison, lawyers say," 21 July 2018 Inside a communal cell block for low-value detainees days after President Donald Trump cancelled his predecessor's closure order. Carol Rosenberg, miamiherald, "Tortured al-Qaida snitch gets shrimp, strawberry Oreos and U.S. sitcoms at Guantánamo," 11 Feb. 2018 Federal inmates and detainees, federal employees, Peace Corps volunteers, District of Columbia residents with low incomes, and military service members are all subject to Hyde-like restrictions. Christine Grimaldi, Vogue, "Senators Introduce Legislation to Finally Repeal the Hyde Amendment and End Wide-Ranging Federal Abortion-Funding Ban," 12 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'detainee.' 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 detainee

circa 1928, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for detainee

Last Updated

21 May 2019

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Time Traveler for detainee

The first known use of detainee was circa 1928

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English Language Learners Definition of detainee

: a person who is being kept in a prison especially for political reasons : a person who is being detained


de·​tain·​ee | \ di-ˌtā-ˈnē How to pronounce detainee (audio) \

Legal Definition of detainee

: a person who is detained especially : a person held in custody prior to trial or hearing

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More from Merriam-Webster on detainee

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with detainee

Nglish: Translation of detainee for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of detainee for Arabic Speakers

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