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retainer1

[ri-tey-ner]
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noun
  1. a person or thing that retains.
  2. a servant or attendant who has served a family for many years.
  3. Also called cage, separator. Machinery. a ring separating, and moving with, balls or rollers in a bearing.
  4. Orthodontics.
    1. a fixed or removable device worn in the mouth to hold the teeth in their new position during the adaptive period after straightening appliances have been removed.
    2. Prosthodontics.a part on a bridge or the like by which the bridge is attached to the natural teeth.
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Origin of retainer1

First recorded in 1530–40; retain + -er1
Related formsre·tain·er·ship, noun

retainer2

[ri-tey-ner]
noun
  1. the act of retaining in one's service.
  2. the fact of being so retained.
  3. a fee paid to secure services, as of a lawyer.
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Origin of retainer2

1425–75; late Middle English reteinir, probably noun use of Middle French retenir to retain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

entouragefeecortegeservantretinuecompanyappliancecrewminiontraingangcliqueemployeeattendant

Examples from the Web for retainer

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Napier thought there was some collusion between the juggler and his retainer.

    Self-Help

    Samuel Smiles

  • Do I understand—do you mean that you wish me to accept Cousin Holliday's retainer?

    Thankful's Inheritance

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • And there is no retainer so devoted as he who is allowed to sit on the doorstep.

    Some Reminiscences

    Joseph Conrad

  • They been paying me off—and that's a retainer, you might say.

    Police Your Planet

    Lester del Rey

  • The Resident learned this from a retainer of one of these nobles.


British Dictionary definitions for retainer

retainer

noun
  1. history a supporter or dependant of a person of rank, esp a soldier
  2. a servant, esp one who has been with a family for a long time
  3. a clip, frame, or similar device that prevents a part of a machine, engine, etc, from moving
  4. a dental appliance for holding a loose tooth or prosthetic device in position
  5. a fee paid in advance to secure first option on the services of a barrister, jockey, etc
  6. a reduced rent paid for a flat, room, etc, during absence to reserve it for future use
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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 retainer

n.1

"fee to secure services," mid-15c., originally "act of keeping for oneself" from retain, or perhaps from or influenced by Middle French retenir, infinitive used as a noun. Meaning "fee paid to an attorney to secure his services" is from 1818.

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n.2

"servant," 1530s, agent noun from retain (v.). Also "one who retains or holds" (1540s). Meaning "dental structure used to hold a bridge in place" is recorded from 1887.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

retainer in Medicine

retainer

(rĭ-tānər)
n.
  1. One that retains, as a device, frame, or groove that restrains or guides, especially for a prosthesis.
  2. An appliance used to hold teeth in position after orthodontic treatment.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.