Definition of retention in English:

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Pronunciation: /rəˈten(t)SH(ə)n/


1The continued possession, use, or control of something: the retention of direct control by central government
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  • The most common rationale for war was acquisition or retention of territory.
  • Selective retention would include a plan to keep employees in the top three groups.
  • Projects must meet a specific physical test for retention of existing walls and internal structural framework.
1.1The fact of keeping something in one’s memory: the children’s retention of facts
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  • Do you hold store in ‘knowledge’ or retention of facts as an identifier to intellectual ability?
  • ‘Just one administration of the drug resulted in very potent memory retention,’ which may last as long as 21 days, he says.
  • Processing speed doesn't matter in the brain, says Hawkins, because the basis of thought is not data manipulation but memory retention and prediction.
1.2The action of absorbing and continuing to hold a substance: the soil’s retention of moisture
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  • So, for instance, fissures in the underlying bedrock or a man-made trench or pit will often fill with soils and matter that have greater moisture retention and more nutrients than the surrounding, undisturbed subsoil.
  • Labor and time are saved when the farmer doesn't plow the field, and the organic matter sitting on the soil works effectively to decrease water run-off and erosion and boost the soil's nutrient retention.
  • Gums help low-fat cheese products retain their shape, cuttability, melting characteristics, spreadability and moisture retention.
1.3Failure to eliminate a substance from the body: eating too much salt can lead to fluid retention
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  • Others have reported increased fecal P excretion and decreased P absorption and retention with increased dietary Mg concentrations.
  • The aged and dying marshal de Biron showed himself an unreliable instrument of force in Paris, while at Grenoble the 86-year-old marshal de Vaux was immobilized by retention of urine.
  • It has been found to act as a satisfactory fat replacement in many processed foods, helping to give them pleasing texture, mouth feel, body, and moisture retention.


Late Middle English (denoting the power to retain something): from Old French, from Latin retentio(n-), from retinere 'hold back' (see retain).

Words that rhyme with retention

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

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: re·ten·tion

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