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Definition of "detain" []

  • To keep from proceeding; delay or retard. (verb-transitive)
  • To keep in custody or temporary confinement: The police detained several suspects for questioning. The disruptive students were detained after school until their parents had been notified. (verb-transitive)
  • Obsolete To retain or withhold (payment or property, for example). (verb-transitive)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "detain" in a sentence
  • "Please note that the position of the Bush-Cheney cabal has been that anybody they detain is * not* a POW, but a, well, ... ah, ‘terrorist’, in a ..... well, not a war, except as they say itis."
  • "Even if the initial decision to detain is legally valid, for how long should detention last?"
  • "Over the past eight years, we have seen the government over and over again detain men as “terrorists,” only to discover later that the evidence was weak, wrong or nonexistent."