Definition of detention in English:

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Pronunciation: /dəˈten(t)SH(ə)n/


1The action of detaining someone or the state of being detained in official custody, especially as a political prisoner: one of the effects of police detention is isolation from friends and family
More example sentences
  • His detention in custody beyond his criminal sentences has gone on long enough.
  • With a history of military service and labour detention camps, these provisions are not surprising.
  • The adjudicator surmises that if the appellant were in detention the police would not be searching for him.
arrest, house arrest;
punishment, discipline
1.1The punishment of being kept in school after hours: he has made students fear after-school detention arbitrary after-school detentions
More example sentences
  • Her advice ends up being to score herself and Zeke both an hour's detention after school.
  • The entirety of last week had been spent with her in hour long after school detentions.
  • At the end of every week at least one of us always had to stay after school for detention.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'withholding of what is claimed or due'): from late Latin detentio(n-), from Latin detinere 'hold back' (see detain).

Words that rhyme with detention

abstention, apprehension, ascension, attention, circumvention, comprehension, condescension, contention, contravention, convention, declension, dimension, dissension, extension, gentian, hypertension, hypotension, intention, intervention, invention, mention, misapprehension, obtention, pension, prehension, prevention, recension, retention, subvention, supervention, suspension, tension

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: de·ten·tion

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