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 detainment (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

There are an estimated 10.5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Tracking down, detaining, and deporting all or most of them is a logistical feat beyond the federal government’s current resources. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Trump’s Day of Terror," 12 July 2019 Jiangsu Boxin told the Shanghai exchange that Lo was taken into custody June 20, while its chief financial officer Jiang Shaoyang was detained June 25. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, "Chairwoman of Camsing, Hong Kong Group that Owns Stan Lee's POW! Entertainment, Arrested in China," 8 July 2019 The policy says troopers may not detain or arrest foreign nationals simply for being in the country without official permission. Jeff Gammage, ProPublica, "ACLU Sues Pennsylvania State Police, Alleging They’ve Overstepped in Acting as Immigration Authorities," 5 July 2019 The government also argued that even without bond hearings, detained asylum-seekers would still have another avenue for release: a request to an immigration officer for parole. Gene Johnson, Twin Cities, "Federal judge blocks Trump administration policy that would keep asylum seekers locked up," 2 July 2019 He was not arrested, but detained and handcuffed by police. Scooby Axson, SI.com, "Report: Ezekiel Elliott To Meet With NFL Over May Las Vegas Incident," 1 July 2019 Shofner did not have a prescription for the Xanax and was detained. Rebecca Hennes, Houston Chronicle, "Pasadena man leaves keys locked in car, gets arrested after officers find drugs when trying to help," 28 June 2019 The Trump administration would rather criminalize immigrants, separate families, and detain refugees than practice empathy and compassion. Sarah Midkiff, refinery29.com, "Children Are Being Held Without Soap, Toothpaste & Diapers In Overcrowded Detention Centres," 25 June 2019 In total, Foro Penal estimates that seven died, more than 40 were wounded, and more than 60 were illegally detained during the attacks on the two villages. Michael Canyon Meyer, Outside Online, "The Murder of Venezuela's Visionary Adventure Guide," 24 June 2019

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

15 Jul 2019

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
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.
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

Comments on detain

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