Definition of detain in English:

detain

Line breaks: de¦tain
Pronunciation: /dɪˈteɪn
 
/

verb

[with object]
1Keep (someone) from proceeding by holding them back or making claims on their attention: she made to open the door, but he detained her
More example sentences
  • A machine detains you for only a moment and then a pleasant live operator will thank you for saying ‘I oppose’ (or ‘I approve of’) of the proposed War against Iraq.
  • Freddie was passed down the line, each diver detaining him to take their turn.
  • It appeared to be pointing in my direction to scare me away and stop me detaining him.
Synonyms
1.1Keep (someone) in official custody, typically for questioning about a crime or in a politically sensitive situation: she was detained without trial for two years
More example sentences
  • Indeed, that judge may be inclined to put pressure on a suspect by deciding to detain him in police custody for the purpose of questioning.
  • Because he was not detained in custody after 10th April, he continued to offend.
  • The claimant may also expect to discover whether the custody officer who detained him did so from a genuine belief in the need so to act, or from some ulterior motive.
1.2Officially seize and hold (goods): customs officers may detain goods for up to two days
More example sentences
  • The reference to detention (my emphasis) appear to show that the Customs had a right to detain goods at any rate if their true value had not been declared.
  • The goods were detained again at customs for lack of certain import papers.
  • Inspecting premises such as restaurants, pubs, and food factories, detaining and seizing suspect food and investigating possible food poisoning outbreaks are all part of the job.
Synonyms
hold, take into custody, put into custody, place in custody, remand in custody, hold in custody, keep in custody, take (in), seize, confine, imprison, lock up, put in jail, put behind bars, incarcerate, impound, intern, restrain, arrest, apprehend
informal pick up, run in, pull in, haul in, cop, bust, nab, nail, do, collar, feel someone's collar
British informal nick, pinch

Origin

late Middle English (in the sense 'be afflicted with sickness or infirmity'): from Old French detenir, from a variant of Latin detinere, from de- 'away, aside' + tenere 'to hold'.

Derivatives

detainment

noun
More example sentences
  • How did the mayor justify the arrest and prolonged detainment of these individuals?
  • Clearly the police have unique powers of arrest and detainment which no civilian should be able to imitate.
  • The search resulted in the detainment of three insurgents who remain in custody.

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Word of the day flippant
Pronunciation: ˈflipənt
adjective
not showing a serious or respectful attitude