Definition of retain in English:

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Pronunciation: /rɪˈteɪn/


[with object]
1Continue to have (something); keep possession of: Labour retained the seat built in 1830, the house retains many of its original features
More example sentences
  • This light-filled house retains a number of attractive period features, such as high ceilings and ceiling coving, and is new on the books of Sherry FitzGerald in Ranelagh.
  • The opposition argued that a government required the confidence of both houses to retain office.
  • He retains his wonderful sense of humor and continues to make his sardonic comments on life, as it is lived in the ballet world of George Zoritch.
keep, keep possession of, keep hold of, hold on to, hold fast to, keep back, hang on to, cling to
literary cleave to
1.1Not abolish or alter; maintain: the rights of defendants must be retained
More example sentences
  • Foley did not express a view on whether the Groceries Order should be retained or abolished.
  • Ownership of the hotel must be retained for seven years in order to avoid a claw-back of relief.
  • Each state must retain its right to determine for itself how it will extend online, and if we disagree with their choice we should argue and use political channels to achieve our ends.
1.2Keep in one’s memory: I retained a few French words and phrases
More example sentences
  • Whereas Mozart famously detested Salzburg, Zehetmair retains much fonder memories of his home town.
  • As has been demonstrated in the ‘Facets’ episode and many others, Trill hosts retain many of the memories and emotions of prior hosts.
  • Walking past ever remaining durable pavements over hundreds of years old, she'd retained her past memories.
remember, memorize, keep in one's mind, keep in one's memory;
learn, learn by heart, get by heart, commit to memory, get off pat, learn by rote, impress on the memory, become word-perfect in;
recall, call to mind, recollect, think of, succeed in remembering
archaic con
2Absorb and continue to hold (a substance): limestone is known to retain water
More example sentences
  • Containers that have soils high in organic matter retain soil moisture longer than other growing media.
  • In the burning process most carbon, nitrogen and sulphur are lost in gaseous form, whereas phosphorus, potassium and calcium are retained in the ash.
  • The job was one that must be done every fall when the crops are in - removing the long strips of black plastic mulch that warms the soil, retains moisture, and stifles the weeds.
3 (often as adjective retaining) Keep (something) in place; hold fixed: remove the retaining bar
More example sentences
  • To ensure the data or slide projector is secure on top of the trolley there is a retaining bar.
  • Disconnect the plastic retaining clip mounted to the interior of the door.
4Keep (someone) engaged in one’s service: he has been retained as a freelance
More example sentences
  • Parliamentary hostility forced his resignation shortly afterwards, but the king retained him in his counsels.
  • New owners will have to consider whether to retain him.
  • In a way it was a compliment that the Director was so keen to retain him that he was happy to pay him the salary of someone doing the job at least one grade above the actual day to day reality of the work.
employ, commission, contract, pay, keep on the payroll, have in employment;
hire, engage, appoint, recruit, put on the payroll, secure the services of, sign on, sign up, take on, take into one's employ
4.1Secure the services of (a barrister) with a preliminary payment: retain a barrister to handle the client’s business
More example sentences
  • On returning to Mobile she retained attorney Norborne R. Clarke to draft a plan based on the Colorado model for a separate juvenile court and detention home in Mobile.
  • Surely it is intended to relax the automatic laws of copyright and yet retain some level of recognition and control without having to incur the expense of retaining a copyright lawyer.
  • You retain a lawyer to litigate the case, although under most policies, the attorney will be assigned to you by your insurer.



Pronunciation: /rɪteɪnəˈbɪlɪti/
Example sentences
  • Selectees, none over age 39, had to be physically fit, mentally awake and morally straight, with saber-sharp military bearing and at least 15 months retainability.
  • By eliminating physical and psychological barriers that impede pilot training, the goal of the management program is to maximize the rate of learning and ultimately increase pilot retainability.
  • Most EPLOs are colonels or lieutenant colonels with at least three years retainability.


Example sentences
  • Bhatia pointed out that up to 80 per cent of those working in the institute will be post-doctoral fellows who will carry on the work internationally and hopefully be retainable for Ontario, and Canada.
  • Good, retainable competencies are much in demand and selection processes have tightened, so that they can deliver on the ideal employee ‘wish lists’ for companies.
  • But to Trevor, it was probably just a story that was lost, something retainable, and he wouldn't miss it in the meantime.


Example sentences
  • The reform believes in the retainment of ‘no fault ‘divorce law and states those who file for divorce on misconduct claims should be compensated.’
  • She said areas such as electronic communication between the schools and the LEA needed to be worked on and the recruitment and retainment of teachers could become a priority in the future.
  • He said: ‘It's disheartening for teachers and it can affect the recruitment and retainment of staff.’


Late Middle English: via Anglo-Norman French from Old French retenir, from Latin retinere, from re- 'back' + tenere 'hold'.

Words that rhyme with retain

abstain, appertain, arcane, arraign, ascertain, attain, Bahrain, bane, blain, brain, Braine, Cain, Caine, campaign, cane, cinquain, chain, champagne, champaign, Champlain, Charmaine, chicane, chow mein, cocaine, Coleraine, Coltrane, complain, constrain, contain, crane, Dane, deign, demesne, demi-mondaine, detain, disdain, domain, domaine, drain, Duane, Dwane, Elaine, entertain, entrain, explain, fain, fane, feign, gain, Germaine, germane, grain, humane, Hussein, inane, Jain, Jane, Jermaine, Kane, La Fontaine, lain, lane, legerdemain, Lorraine, main, Maine, maintain, mane, mise en scène, Montaigne, moraine, mundane, obtain, ordain, Paine, pane, pertain, plain, plane, Port-of-Spain, profane, rain, Raine, refrain, reign, rein, romaine, sane, Seine, Shane, Sinn Fein, skein, slain, Spain, Spillane, sprain, stain, strain, sustain, swain, terrain, thane, train, twain, Ujjain, Ukraine, underlain, urbane, vain, vane, vein, Verlaine, vicereine, wain, wane, Wayne

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