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

If a property management company is servicing a house owned by someone who wants to sell, the company can list the property on Investimate and find a new buyer who wants to retain them as the property manager. Jeff Andrews, Curbed, "The single-family rental industry is starting to consolidate," 11 Dec. 2018 To retain her royal title, Madeleine has not taken on her husband’s surname. Stephanie Nolasco, Fox News, "Princess Madeleine of Sweden and her family are moving to Florida," 14 Aug. 2018 The Bengals not only spend the draft capital on it, but are more than willing to pay to retain them: 2011: Hall reached an extension before the season began in early September, inking a four-year, $39 million deal. Jim Owczarski, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati Bengals Xtra: Extension? Darqueze Dennard willing to gamble," 1 July 2018 The Heat's other two-way player last season, guard Derrick Walton Jr., remains with a qualifying offer in place to retain him on a two-way contract for 2018-19. Ira Winderman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Heat sign Derrick Jones Jr. to standard contract, roster now at 11 guaranteed deals," 1 July 2018 John Elway considered firing Joseph after the Broncos finished 5-11 in Joseph's first season as head coach but ultimately chose to retain him, although significant changes to his staff were made. Lindsay H. Jones, USA TODAY, "Broncos training camp questions: Is Case Keenum long-term answer at QB?," 28 June 2018 If either of us forgets to delete it — or chooses to retain it — then the encryption doesn’t do us very much good. Derek Hawkins, Washington Post, "The Cybersecurity 202: Trump associates may need a lesson on how to use their encrypted apps," 18 June 2018 Despite the updates, the brownstone still retains its roots. Shoko Wanger, House Beautiful, "This Four-Story Brooklyn Brownstone Is Traditional—With a Twist," 18 Mar. 2019 The new one retains those specs, but with big improvements to brightness (38 percent increased) and contrast (22 percent increased). Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Surface Studio 2 has an even more amazing screen, ditches the spinning disks," 3 Oct. 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

13 May 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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