[ ri-teyn ]
/ rɪˈteɪn /
verb (used with object)
to keep possession of.
to continue to use, practice, etc.: to retain an old custom.
to continue to hold or have: to retain a prisoner in custody; a cloth that retains its color.
to keep in mind; remember.
to hold in place or position.
to engage, especially by payment of a preliminary fee: to retain a lawyer.
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“Compliment” and “complement” had a shared meaning a long time ago, but today they are no longer interchangeable.
Origin of retain
1350–1400; Middle English reteinen < Old French retenir < Latin retinēre to hold back, hold fast, equivalent to re- re- + -tinēre, combining form of tenēre to hold
OTHER WORDS FROM retain
re·tain·a·ble, adjectivere·tain·a·bil·i·ty, re·tain·a·ble·ness, nounre·tain·ment, nounnon·re·tain·a·ble, adjective
non·re·tain·ment, nounun·re·tain·a·ble, adjectiveun·re·tained, adjectiveun·re·tain·ing, adjective
Words nearby retain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020
British Dictionary definitions for retainability
/ (rɪˈteɪn) /
to keep in one's possession
to be able to hold or containsoil that retains water
(of a person) to be able to remember (information, facts, etc) without difficulty
to hold in position
to keep for one's future use, as by paying a retainer or nominal chargeto retain one's rooms for the holidays
law to engage the services of (a barrister) by payment of a preliminary fee
(in selling races) to buy back a winner that one owns when it is auctioned after the race
(of racehorse trainers) to pay an advance fee to (a jockey) so as to have prior or exclusive claims upon his services throughout the season
Derived forms of retainretainable, adjectiveretainment, noun
Word Origin for retain
C14: from Old French retenir, from Latin retinēre to hold back, from re- + tenēre to hold
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