de·​tain·​ee di-ˌtā-ˈnē How to pronounce detainee (audio)
: a person held in custody especially for political reasons

Examples of detainee in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Several people at the ceremony spent years trying to track detainees who remain unaccounted for. Pamela Constable, Washington Post, 25 Sep. 2023 In Xinjiang, Uyghurs are habitually detained or punished for speaking their native language, while the propaganda forced on detainees in reeducation camps includes education in the Mandarin language. Gina Anne Tam, Foreign Affairs, 19 Sep. 2023 The fifth detainee had already been under house arrest. Bradford Betz, Fox News, 11 Sep. 2023 An agreement to meet such conditions for the detainees, potentially for the rest of their lives, carried major policy implications likely beyond the authority of a criminal court or a particular team of prosecutors. Carol Rosenberg, New York Times, 6 Sep. 2023 During an unrelated news conference Thursday, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis did not take questions about the detainee’s death but was asked about conditions in the jail. Devon M. Sayers, CNN, 31 Aug. 2023 The jail detainee who died this week was found unresponsive in his cell around 4:20 p.m. Blayne Alexander, NBC News, 31 Aug. 2023 One detainee was killed and at least two others were injured following multiple stabbings at Fulton County’s troubled Rice Street Jail, the sheriff’s office said Thursday. Shaddi Abusaid, ajc, 31 Aug. 2023 Clemons-Abdullah said her department has improved the food served to detainees by having the vendor look at the nutritional value of food and has slowly implemented those details. USA TODAY, 23 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'detainee.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1928, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of detainee was circa 1928

Dictionary Entries Near detainee

Cite this Entry

“Detainee.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Legal Definition


de·​tain·​ee di-ˌtā-ˈnē How to pronounce detainee (audio)
: a person who is detained
especially : a person held in custody prior to trial or hearing
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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