retain

verb
re·​tain | \ ri-ˈtān How to pronounce retain (audio) \
retained; retaining; retains

Definition of retain

transitive verb

1a : to keep in possession or use
b : to keep in one's pay or service specifically : to employ by paying a retainer
c : to keep in mind or memory : remember
2 : to hold secure or intact

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Synonyms & Antonyms for retain

Synonyms

hold, keep, reserve, withhold

Antonyms

give up, hand over, release, relinquish, surrender, yield

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Choose the Right Synonym for retain

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

Examples of retain in a Sentence

A landlord may retain part of your deposit if you break the lease. They insisted on retaining old customs. You will retain your rights as a citizen. The TV show has retained its popularity for many years. The company's goal is to attract and retain good employees. The team failed to retain him, and he became a free agent. They have decided to retain a firm to conduct a survey. You may need to retain an attorney.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Cambia Health Solutions and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina will merge their managements in a combined structure that will retain the Cambia name. Anna Wilde Mathews, WSJ, "Major Blue Health Insurers to Combine," 12 Mar. 2019 For example, wisps of hair stay sharply in focus, and background images retain their proper distance and aren't muddied into a single blur. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "Nokia 9 PureView hands-on: All of the cameras and none of the gimmicks," 24 Feb. 2019 This story is being told by the older Elena, after all, and the whole tale has a filter of nostalgia that retains just enough skepticism to avoid curdling into schmaltz. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "HBO’s My Brilliant Friend adaptation is a knockout," 18 Nov. 2018 Instead, sleep on a silk pillowcase, which retains moisture and reduces friction, and thus damage. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "6 Foolproof Tips for Growing Out Your Hair, According to Pro Stylists," 20 Oct. 2018 The 2,428-square-foot home features a remodeled interior that retains the original charm while adding 21st-century flair. Alex Bazeley, Curbed, "Historic 1948 ‘hobbit house’ with lake views asks $2.75M," 23 July 2018 To what extent the trade tensions bleed into other aspects of the U.S.-China relationship, which has retained a mostly upward trajectory since the normalization of ties four decades ago, remains to be seen. Washington Post, "Analysis: Trade rocks already unstable US-China relations," 7 July 2018 Attracting, retaining and growing tech talent in North Carolina should be a key initiative for our state. charlotteobserver, "Ashley Christensen," 3 July 2018 The Germans are bidding to become the first team to retain the World Cup title since Brazil in 1962. James Ellingsworth, star-telegram, "Did that just happen? Mexico stuns defending champion Germany in World Cup upset," 17 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'retain.' 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 retain

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for retain

Middle English reteinen, retainen, from Anglo-French retenir, reteigner, from Latin retinēre to hold back, restrain, from re- + tenēre to hold — more at thin

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Statistics for retain

Last Updated

18 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for retain

The first known use of retain was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for retain

retain

verb

English Language Learners Definition of retain

formal
: to continue to have or use (something)
: to keep (someone) in a position, job, etc.
: to pay for the work of (a person or business)

retain

verb
re·​tain | \ ri-ˈtān How to pronounce retain (audio) \
retained; retaining

Kids Definition of retain

1 : to keep or continue to use They retain old customs.
2 : to hold safe or unchanged Lead retains heat.
re·​tain | \ ri-ˈtān How to pronounce retain (audio) \

Medical Definition of retain

1 : to hold or keep in retain fluids
2 : to keep in mind or memory

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re·​tain | \ ri-ˈtān How to pronounce retain (audio) \

Legal Definition of retain

1 : to keep in possession or use
2 : to keep in one's pay or service specifically : to employ (as a lawyer) by paying a retainer

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More from Merriam-Webster on retain

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with retain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for retain

Spanish Central: Translation of retain

Nglish: Translation of retain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of retain for Arabic Speakers

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