ret·​i·​nue ˈre-tə-ˌnü How to pronounce retinue (audio)
: a group of retainers or attendants

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Retinue derives via Middle English from the Anglo-French verb retenir, meaning "to retain." Another word deriving from retenir is retainer, which means, among other things, "one who serves a person of high position or rank." In the 14th century, that high person of rank was usually a noble or a royal of some kind, and retinue referred to that person's collection of servants and companions. Nowadays, the word is often used with a bit of exaggeration to refer to the assistants, guards, publicists, and other people who accompany an actor or other high-profile individual in public. You might also hear such a collection called a suite or entourage, two other words derived from French.

Examples of retinue in a Sentence

the king and his retinue a pop star traveling with his retinue
Recent Examples on the Web The Virgo cluster surrounds itself with a retinue of smaller groups, pulling each one toward it with its immense gravity. Paul Sutter, Ars Technica, 24 Apr. 2023 Royal Island, a swanky Caribbean oasis in The Bahamas, awaits its next king or queen and their lucky retinue of family and friends. Abby Montanez, Robb Report, 11 Jan. 2024 The rising of Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, and its retinue of stars led the Egyptians to invent the 24-hours timekeeping system still used today. TIME, 15 Dec. 2023 Unfortunately, the lion and the bull began to spend so much time in conversation that the lion stopped hunting and the animals in the retinue began to starve. Salman Rushdie, The New Yorker, 31 Oct. 2023 Sircar and other members of the opposition boycotted the ceremony, during which Modi entered the lower-house chamber trailed by a retinue of shirtless Hindu holy men. Daniel Brook, The New Yorker, 7 Sep. 2023 Willow and her retinue were among hundreds of spectators who turned out to cheer the Midget Wrestling Warriors, a troupe of short-statured performers whose opening-day showcase drew fiery condemnation from California’s tightknit dwarf community and disability rights groups. Sonja Sharp, Los Angeles Times, 29 Aug. 2023 By the end of the video, Parks’ retinue includes five people who are also pretty chill about Parks vibing out with headphones on. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 10 May 2023 In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the entire retinue of staff, Secret Service, and press held at our hotel until well into the afternoon, when the motorcade finally hit the road for a nearly three-hour drive and a long evening of events in Arizona—because Dr. B was teaching her classes over Zoom. Jonathan Van Meter, Vogue, 29 June 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'retinue.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English retenue, from Anglo-French, from feminine of retenu, past participle of retenir to retain

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of retinue was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near retinue

Cite this Entry

“Retinue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


ret·​i·​nue ˈret-ᵊn-ˌ(y)ü How to pronounce retinue (audio)
: a group of helpers, servants, or followers

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