[ kuhs-tuh-dee ]
See 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.

  1. imprisonment; legal restraint: He was taken into custody.

  2. 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

synonym study For custody

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.

Other words for custody

Words Nearby custody Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use custody in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for custody


/ (ˈkʌstədɪ) /

nounplural -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)

Origin of custody

C15: from Latin custōdia, from custōs guard, defender

Derived forms of custody

  • custodial (kʌˈstəʊdɪəl), adjective

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