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[kuhs-tuh-dee] /ˈkʌs tə di/
noun, plural custodies.
keeping; guardianship; care.
the keeping or charge of officers of the law:
The car was held in the custody of the police.
imprisonment; legal restraint:
He was taken into custody.
Also called child custody. Law. the right of determining the residence, protection, care, and education of a minor child or children, especially in a divorce or separation.
Origin of custody
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English custodye < Latin custōdia “a watching, watchman,” equivalent to custōd- (stem of custōs) “keeper” + -ia -y3
1. safekeeping, charge, watch.
Synonym Study
1.Custody, keeping, possession imply a guardianship or care for something. Custody denotes a strict keeping, as by a formally authorized and responsible guardian or keeper: in the custody of the sheriff. Keeping denotes having in one's care or charge, as for guarding or preservation: I left the package in my mother's keeping. Possession means holding, ownership, or mastery: Leave it in possession of its owner. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for custody
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Yes, he had replaced it—because he was responsible for its custody.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • Neither was he aware that Arthur had been taken into custody.

    The Channings Mrs. Henry Wood
  • He was admitted, and recognized the poor negro, now in custody as a recaptured slave.

    Self-Help Samuel Smiles
  • A hundred were already in custody, and more were taken every hour.

    Barnaby Rudge Charles Dickens
  • The inmates had fled or been taken into custody, he could not say which.

    Barnaby Rudge Charles Dickens
British Dictionary definitions for custody


noun (pl) -dies
the act of keeping safe or guarding, esp the right of guardianship of a minor
the state of being held by the police; arrest (esp in the phrases in custody, take into custody)
Derived Forms
custodial (kʌˈstəʊdɪəl) adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Latin custōdia, from custōs guard, defender
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for custody

mid-15c., from Latin custodia "guarding, watching, keeping," from custos (genitive custodis) "guardian, keeper, protector," from PIE *(s)keu- "to cover, conceal" (see hide (n.1)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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