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 \ -​mənt How to pronounce detainment (audio) \ 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

Her responsibilities included interviewing people who’d been detained at the downtown courthouse (the same complex where Simpson would later be tried for murder). Jessica Chou, Glamour, "Shawn Holley Will Free You Now," 11 Dec. 2018 Pompeo returned from the North Korean capital of Pyongyang on Thursday after securing the successful release of three Americans who had been detained in the country. Elizabeth Zwirz, Fox News, "North Korea will receive US economic assistance if it gives up nuclear weapons, Pompeo says," 2 Oct. 2018 This is an escalation from a few months ago, when Americans were detained by ICE officials just for speaking Spanish to one another. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why Stripping U.S. Citizens of Their Passports Is a Precursor to Genocide," 7 Sep. 2018 Maxim, who was detained in July of 2018 and charged after uploading images to Vkontakte, a popular social media platform in Russia. Elly Belle, Teen Vogue, "A Russian Teen Was Reportedly Arrested for "Gay Propaganda"," 16 Aug. 2018 Two people who were detained were charged with interfering with duties of a police officer, KTSM reported. NBC News, "El Paso, Texas officer under review after pulling gun on group of children," 9 July 2018 The Mirror are reporting that the Ivorian was detained by north London police, with law enforcement having claimed that a man was arrested for the aforementioned. SI.com, "Arson-al: Ex-Gunners Defender Arrested in London on Suspicion of Arson," 8 July 2018 On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said fewer than 3,000 children are believed to have been separated, but that includes kids who may have lost parents along the journey, not just parents who were detained at the border. Time, "Judge Rejects Trump Administration's Request for Blanket Extension to Reunite Separated Migrant Children," 7 July 2018 Machado told el Nuevo Herald that relatives of the armed forces members who were detained have told her the detainees are being tortured. Antonio Maria Delgado, miamiherald, "Venezuelan opposition activist says she isn't part of any Maduro assassination plot," 29 June 2018

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

11 Mar 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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