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

And Mio, who plays Chester, recalled a scene where his character tries to take the place of his father, who is detained for questioning. Nina Li Coomes, The Atlantic, "The Uneven Historical Horror of The Terror: Infamy," 2 Sep. 2019 More than 60 prisoners were reported to be involved, including 24 Ukrainian sailors who were detained when their ships were seized in 2018 in the Kerch Strait between Crimea and the Russian mainland. Will Englund, BostonGlobe.com, "Ukrainians and Russians working on a major prisoner exchange," 30 Aug. 2019 More than 20 protesters circled the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden this morning, chanting for the release of an immigrant rights activist and his son who have been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement since Thursday morning. William Thornton | Wthornton@al.com, al, "Protesters call for release of detained Alabama immigrant rights group board member," 23 Aug. 2019 That same year, China abolished its internal custody and repatriation system after intensive news coverage of a migrant worker in Guangzhou who was detained for not carrying his I.D. and subsequently beaten to death in custody. Han Zhang, The New Yorker, "The “Post-Truth” Publication Where Chinese Students in America Get Their News," 19 Aug. 2019 Three crew members who had been detained were also released. Megan Specia, New York Times, "Seized Iranian Tanker Leaves Gibraltar Despite U.S. Pressure," 18 Aug. 2019 On Wednesday, a hangar at a Mississippi Air National Guard base in Flowood, adjoining the Jackson airport, was set up to process those who were detained. Rogelio V. Solis, Jeff Amy, Anchorage Daily News, "Largest US immigration raids in a decade net 680 arrests," 8 Aug. 2019 Francisco Erwin Galicia was detained at a Border Patrol checkpoint on June 27 and was released July 23, his mother said. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "18-Year-Old Francisco Galicia Is the Latest U.S. Citizen to Be Detained in Immigration Enforcement Custody," 24 July 2019 The government said just 35 people were detained, according to the Times. Char Adams, PEOPLE.com, "Neighbors Form Human Chain to Block ICE from Detaining Father and Son: They Were 'Bullying' Them," 23 July 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

9 Sep 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for detain

Spanish Central: Translation of detain

Nglish: Translation of detain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of detain for Arabic Speakers

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