det·​i·​nue ˈde-tᵊn-ˌ(y)ü How to pronounce detinue (audio)
: a common-law action for the recovery of a personal chattel wrongfully detained or of its value
: detention of something due
especially : the unlawful detention of a personal chattel from another

Examples of detinue in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Christopher Akpala, owner of the Uac Food Mart in the 900 block of Bennett Place in Harlem Park, filed the detinue — a legal claim to recover wrongfully seized property — in January, according to court records. Kevin Rector,, 15 Mar. 2018

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

Word History


Middle English detenewe, from Anglo-French detenue detention, from feminine of detenu, past participle of detenir to detain

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of detinue was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near detinue

Cite this Entry

“Detinue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Legal Definition


det·​i·​nue ˈdet-ᵊn-ˌü, -ˌyü How to pronounce detinue (audio)
: a common-law action for the recovery of personal property belonging to the plaintiff that is wrongfully detained by the defendant compare trover

Anglo-French detenue, from feminine past participle of detenir to detain see detainer

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