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

When women are provided essential benefits, productivity goes up and employee retention and loyalty increase. Ilyse Hogue, Glamour, "Attention Corporate America, Women Need to Know That You Support Their Reproductive Rights," 23 Apr. 2019 Harris’ plan also includes investments in teacher recruitment, training, retention and professional development, her campaign says. Juana Summers, The Seattle Times, "Kamala Harris promises teachers a raise if elected president," 26 Mar. 2019 At the end of the 12 weeks, the app group saw an overall retention rate of 80.4 percent, compared to 64.1 percent for the no-app group. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "The FDA Thinks This App Could Help People With Opioid Use Disorder Stay in Recovery," 17 Dec. 2018 The goats had been corralled near a local retention pond to eat weeds and other overgrowth. Amy Lieu, Fox News, "Goats storm Idaho neighborhood after escape from enclosure," 4 Aug. 2018 Walmart’s own research has found that VR learning improves employee retention of new information by 10 to 15 percent compared to the typical combination of videos, online demos, and classroom work. Patrick Sisson, Vox, "In Walmart’s virtual reality simulation, Black Friday never ends," 15 Nov. 2018 The water was instead caught in nearby storm water retention ponds, Howard said. Agueda Pacheco-flores, The Seattle Times, "Noxious Tacoma scrap-metal fire under control; nearby air quality has improved," 17 Sep. 2018 The order also directed Greitens to provide phone numbers and other details, which would allow the plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging violations of the state records-retention law to request information from Confide. Washington Post, "Missouri governor quits in scandal, signs ‘revenge porn’ law," 2 June 2018 Under Florida’s controversial third-grade retention law, students who score very poorly on the FSA language arts exam — earning a level 1 — could be held back and barred from fourth grade. Leslie Postal,, "Third-grade reading scores on FSA exam fall in 2018," 25 May 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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Statistics for retention

Last Updated

10 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for retention

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

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More Definitions for retention



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).


one that collects or salvages junk

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