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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

To keep it in place during incubation, the doctor will also insert a retention device resembling a small, breathable diaphragm, Dr. Kevin Doody says. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "These Two Women Both ‘Carried’ Their Baby Using Reciprocal Effortless IVF," 16 Nov. 2018 Third-party data puts its sales and customer retention below its peers. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Uber is building tools to Uber-ize all kinds of work," 19 Oct. 2018 To do so, the wounded warrior must face a Medical Evaluation Board that determines whether the soldier meets medical retention standards. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "The Man With a Knife for an Arm," 14 Aug. 2018 The Virginian-Pilot notes that the lawsuit, which includes claims of negligence, gross negligence and negligent hiring and retention, was moved to federal court last week after being initially filed in in Chesapeake Circuit Court. Janine Puhak, Fox News, "Virginia woman suing JC Penney salon for $4.5 million for ‘horribly bad’ scalp bleach burns," 7 Aug. 2018 Our retention rate in placement is over 80 percent. Amanda Abrams, Curbed, "Women are the solution to the construction industry’s labor shortage," 5 Nov. 2018 Those include financial targets like core revenue growth as well as measures of customer satisfaction (on-time delivery) and employee morale (retention rates). Russell Adams, WSJ, "Can Larry Culp Fix GE?," 6 Oct. 2018 Fluid retention around the lips may be to blame, Dr. Shepherd says, which might push them out a bit more than usual. Korin Miller, SELF, "Khloé Kardashian Wants People to Know That She Had 'Pregnancy Lips' During 'KUWTK' Filming," 8 Aug. 2018 The retention of Lanny Davis certainly was an indicator of that. Fox News, "Ingraham: When the inmates run the immigration asylum," 26 July 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

6 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for retention

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

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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

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on retention

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with retention

Spanish Central: Translation of retention

Nglish: Translation of retention for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of retention for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about retention

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).


a nest or breeding place

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