[ri-ten-shuh n]


the act of retaining.
the state of being retained.
the power to retain; capacity for retaining.
the act or power of remembering things; memory.

Origin of retention

1350–1400; Middle English retencion < Latin retentiōn- (stem of retentiō) a keeping back, equivalent to retent(us) (past participle of retinēre to retain) + -iōn- -ion
Related formsnon·re·ten·tion, nouno·ver·re·ten·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for retention

Contemporary Examples of retention

Historical Examples of retention

  • He pleaded eloquently for the retention of the small boroughs.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • The most marked incident in that policy has been the retention of Chitral.

  • The purpose of education is "adaptation,—with the retention of adaptability."

    College Teaching

    Paul Klapper

  • The hind-quarters should be raised as high as possible, in order to favor its retention.

  • The retention and constant enlargement of the public domain.

    Socialism As It Is

    William English Walling

British Dictionary definitions for retention



the act of retaining or state of being retained
the capacity to hold or retain liquid
the capacity to remember
pathol the abnormal holding within the body of urine, faeces, etc, that are normally excreted
commerce a sum of money owed to a contractor but not paid for an agreed period as a safeguard against any faults found in the work carried out
(plural) accounting profits earned by a company but not distributed as dividends; retained earnings

Word Origin for retention

C14: from Latin retentiō, from retinēre to retain
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 retention

late 14c., from Latin retentionem (nominative retentio) "a retaining, a holding back," noun of action from past participle stem of retinere (see retain). Originally medical; mental sense is from late 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

retention in Medicine




Involuntary withholding by the body of wastes or secretions that are normally eliminated.
The holding by the body of what normally belongs in it, such as food in the stomach.
An ability to recall or recognize what has been learned or experienced; memory.
In dentistry, a period following orthodontic treatment when a patient wears an appliance or appliances to stabilize the teeth in their new position.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.