re·​ten·​tion | \ ri-ˈten(t)-shən How to pronounce retention (audio) \

Definition of retention

1a : the act of retaining : the state of being retained
b : abnormal retaining of a fluid or secretion in a body cavity
2a : power of retaining : retentiveness
b : an ability to retain things in mind specifically : a preservation of the aftereffects of experience and learning that makes recall or recognition possible
3 : something retained

Examples of retention in a Sentence

the recruitment and retention of good employees the retention of profits from all sales pills to offset water retention the retention of things learned in school They say the herb promotes memory retention.
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Recent Examples on the Web That’s up from $400,000 with a $100,000 retention bonus last season for Stubblefield and up from $280,000 last season for Mennenga. James Crepea | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Oregon Ducks men’s, women’s basketball assistant coaches receive contract extensions," 12 Nov. 2019 The iconoclastic Leach signed an extension in January that pays him $3.75 million this season and $4 million per year from 2020-23, plus a one-time $750,000 retention bonus at the end of the 2020 season., "California’s Fair Pay to Play Act was signed into law," 20 Oct. 2019 Purdue lawyers argued that the sign-on and retention bonuses were vital to attracting and keeping top talent in a tumultuous time for the company. Michael R. Sisak, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Purdue Pharma to stay in business as bankruptcy unfolds," 17 Sep. 2019 Because of commitments Purdue made before the bankruptcy filing, the company will pay sign-on bonuses to five employees and retention bonuses to about 100 employees. CBS News, "Purdue Pharma to stay in business as it pursues bankruptcy protection," 17 Sep. 2019 Mullens received a $100,000 retention bonus on June 30. John Canzano,, "John Canzano’s Top 25 most influential people in Oregon sports for 2019," 17 Aug. 2019 His original retention bonus would have been worth $1 million on March 31, 2015 and $1.25 million on March 31, 2016. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "How John Calipari's contract has changed over 10 years as Kentucky's basketball coach," 17 June 2019 Those teachers and aides have been offered $10,000 retention bonuses to stay through the transition, according to a person familiar with the offer., "Nike is expanding its daycare benefit, and its employees are furious," 8 June 2019 After Oregon’s law went into effect, several managers threatened to leave because of the new complications, prompting Mr. Ray to dole out $25,000 in retention bonuses. Rachel Feintzeig, WSJ, "New Laws Aim to Make Work Hours More Predictable," 27 Sep. 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for retention

Middle English retencioun, from Anglo-French, from Latin retention-, retentio, from retinēre to retain — more at retain

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Time Traveler for retention

Time Traveler

The first known use of retention was in the 14th century

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Statistics for retention

Last Updated

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Retention.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 8 December 2019.

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More Definitions for retention


How to pronounce retention (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of retention

: the act of keeping someone or something
: the act of keeping extra liquid, heat, etc., inside the body
: the ability to keep something


re·​ten·​tion | \ ri-ˈten-shən How to pronounce retention (audio) \

Kids Definition of retention

1 : the act of continuing to possess, control, or hold moisture retention
2 : the power or ability to keep or hold something memory retention


re·​ten·​tion | \ ri-ˈten-chən How to pronounce retention (audio) \

Medical Definition of retention

1 : the act of retaining: as
a : abnormal retaining of a fluid or secretion in a body cavity retention of urine retention of bile
b : the holding in place of a tooth or dental replacement by means of a retainer
2 : a preservation of the aftereffects of experience and learning that makes recall or recognition possible

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re·​ten·​tion | \ ri-ˈten-chən How to pronounce retention (audio) \

Legal Definition of retention

1 : the act of retaining or the state of being retained
2 : the portion of the insurance on a particular risk not reinsured or ceded by the originating insurer

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Comments on retention

What made you want to look up retention? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to constrict the range or activity of

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