re·ten·tion | \ri-ˈten(t)-shən \

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Among the allegations are racketeering, witness tampering, mail and wire fraud, assault, civil battery, negligent supervision and retention and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Elizabeth Zwirz, Fox News, "Harvey Weinstein hit with rape allegation in new lawsuit," 1 June 2018 Eligibility, retention and grades are all part of the metric used to determine each team's score. Nick Baumgardner, Detroit Free Press, "University of Michigan nets 19 perfect Academic Progress Rate scores," 23 May 2018 His annual base salary of $1 million (plus retention and performance bonuses) is among the sweetest deals in the sport. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville's Dan McDonnell is 'not looking' - but job rumors persist," 16 May 2018 Glickman counts among her accomplishments the growth of student support services, the improvement of retention and graduation rates, as well as building the college’s community partnerships and foundation support for scholarships and programs. Kathleen Megan,, "Glickman Retires As President of Manchester Community College," 16 May 2018 Widespread issues regarding facility conditions, staff retention and overcrowding persist at detention facilities nationwide. Mike Hendricks, kansascity, "Grand jury reports a filthy, crowded Jackson County jail. Where's the money going? | The Kansas City Star," 11 May 2018 At the time, trustees said making the mayor's job full-time and having that person head up business retention and attraction efforts would save Orland Park the cost of hiring a full-time economic development director. Mike Nolan, Daily Southtown, "Orland Park trustees may reconsider full-time mayor," 3 Apr. 2018 Essential for deaf people and English language learners, and scientifically shown to promote reading comprehension and retention, subtitles have only recently become essential for many TV watchers, period. Jason Kehe, WIRED, "The Real Reason You Use Closed Captions for Everything Now," 26 June 2018 And many companies continue to focus only on recruitment instead of retention, which Blanche likened to seeing that the canary in the coal mine is having problems and throwing in 50 more canaries as a solution. Tracey Lien,, "As diversity progress in Silicon Valley stalls, advocates call for a new approach," 4 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about retention

Dictionary Entries near retention








Statistics for retention

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for retention

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

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 \

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

Keep scrolling for more


re·ten·tion | \ri-ˈten-chən \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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 holds something together

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!