See more synonyms for custody on
noun, plural cus·to·dies.
  1. keeping; guardianship; care.
  2. the keeping or charge of officers of the law: The car was held in the custody of the police.
  3. imprisonment; legal restraint: He was taken into custody.
  4. 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.Compare joint custody, sole custody.

Origin of custody

1400–50; late Middle English custodye < Latin custōdia “a watching, watchman,” equivalent to custōd- (stem of custōs) “keeper” + -ia -y3

Synonyms for custody

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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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for custody

Contemporary Examples of custody

Historical Examples of custody

  • Yes, he had replaced it—because he was responsible for its custody.


    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.


    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 plural -dies
  1. the act of keeping safe or guarding, esp the right of guardianship of a minor
  2. the state of being held by the police; arrest (esp in the phrases in custody, take into custody)
Derived Formscustodial (kʌˈstəʊdɪəl), adjective

Word Origin for custody

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

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