- to keep from proceeding; keep waiting; delay.
- to keep under restraint or in custody.
- Obsolete. to keep back or withhold, as from a person.
Origin of detain
1480–90; detainen < Anglo-French, Old French detenir < Vulgar Latin *dētenīre, for Latin dētinēre, equivalent to dē- de- + -tinēre, combining form of tenēre to hold
SynonymsSee more synonyms for detain on Thesaurus.com
1. retard, stop, slow, stay, check.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for detain
Kadyrov had promised to detain Muslim women wearing veils that cover their faces.Fierce Fighting in Grozny Raises Specter of ISIS Influence in Russia
December 4, 2014
Still, Israel is not the only country to detain refugee applicants.After Fleeing War and Genocide, African Refugees in Israel March for Freedom
December 19, 2013
They find a few ounces of meth in the car and detain him for twenty four hours.The Devil’s Drug: The True Story of Meth in New Mexico
August 24, 2013
Senator Marco Rubio asks "Why shouldn't we have a place to take people that we detain--like Guantanamo?"John Brennan's CIA Confirmation Hearing: Live Updates (Video)
February 7, 2013
They will detain them and begin the process of removal—which is what federal law theoretically calls for in the first place.The Arizona Immigration Decision
June 25, 2012
"Don't let me detain you," said Halbert, with an elaborate share of politeness.Brave and Bold
What he had to say therefore on the subject would not detain them long.Explorations in Australia
Mrs. Menotti tried to detain him; she could not understand what was amiss.Rico and Wiseli
Then she withdrew her arms, and this time he did not try to detain her.The Foolish Lovers
St. John G. Ervine
As everything was right, the ship did not detain us, and we were permitted to proceed.Ned Myers
James Fenimore Cooper
- to delay; hold back; stop
- to confine or hold in custody; restrain
- archaic to retain or withhold
C15: from Old French detenir, from Latin dētinēre to hold off, keep back, from de- + tenēre to hold
Word Origin and History for detain
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper