Synonyms & Antonyms of retain

1 to continue to have in one's possession or power
  • I plan to retain the family heirlooms until my own children are mature enough to appreciate them, and then I will lovingly pass them on

Synonyms for retain

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Phrases Synonymous with retain

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Antonyms for retain

2 to keep, control, or experience as one's own
  • that author retains the right to veto any changes in his books suggested by his publisher's notoriously intrusive editor

Synonyms for retain

Words Related to retain

Phrases Synonymous with retain

Near Antonyms for retain

Antonyms for retain

3 to provide with a paying job
  • her neighbor retained her as a nanny for the summer, thus giving her something to do until school started again

Synonyms for retain

Words Related to retain

Near Antonyms for retain

Antonyms for retain

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About retain

How is the word retain distinct from other similar verbs?

Some common synonyms of retain are detain, keep, reserve, and withhold. While all these words mean "to hold in one's possession or under one's control," retain implies continued keeping, especially against threatened seizure or forced loss.

managed to retain their dignity even in poverty

When is detain a more appropriate choice than retain?

The meanings of detain and retain largely overlap; however, detain suggests a delay in letting go.

detained them for questioning

When might keep be a better fit than retain?

In some situations, the words keep and retain are roughly equivalent. However, keep may suggest a holding securely in one's possession, custody, or control.

keep this while I'm gone

When can reserve be used instead of retain?

The words reserve and retain are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, reserve suggests a keeping in store for future use.

reserve some of your energy for the last mile

In what contexts can withhold take the place of retain?

The words withhold and retain can be used in similar contexts, but withhold implies restraint in letting go or a refusal to let go.

withheld information from the authorities

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Time Traveler for retain

Time Traveler

The first known use of retain was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Retain.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on retain

Nglish: Translation of retain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of retain for Arabic Speakers


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