What does detention mean?

Definitions for detention
dɪˈtɛn ʃənde·ten·tion

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word detention.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. detention, detainment, hold, custodynoun

    a state of being confined (usually for a short time)

    "his detention was politically motivated"; "the prisoner is on hold"; "he is in the custody of police"

  2. detentionnoun

    a punishment in which a student must stay at school after others have gone home

    "the detention of tardy pupils"


  1. detentionnoun

    The act of detaining or the state of being detained.

  2. detentionnoun

    A temporary state of custody or confinement, especially of a prisoner awaiting trial, or of a student being punished.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Detentionnoun

    Etymology: from detain.

    How goes the world, that I am thus encountred
    With clam’rous claims of debt, of broken bonds,
    And the detention of long since due debts,
    Against my honour? William Shakespeare, Timon.

    This worketh by detention of the spirits, and constipation of the tangible parts. Francis Bacon, Natural History, №. 341.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Detentionnoun

    the act of detaining or keeping back; a withholding

  2. Detentionnoun

    the state of being detained (stopped or hindered); delay from necessity

  3. Detentionnoun

    confinement; restraint; custody

  4. Etymology: [L. detentio: cf. F. dtention. See Detain.]


  1. Detention

    Detention is the process when a state, government or citizen lawfully holds a person by removing their freedom of liberty at that time. This can be due to criminal charges being raised against the individual as part of a prosecution or to protect a person or property. Being detained does not always result in being taken to a particular area, either for interrogation, or as punishment for a crime. The term can also be used in reference to the holding of property, for the same reasons. The process of detainment may or may not have been preceded or followed with an arrest. The prisoners in Guantánamo Bay are for example referred to as "detainees". Detainee is a term used by certain governments and their military to refer to individuals held in custody, such as those it does not classify and treat as either prisoners of war or suspects in criminal cases. It is used to refer to "any person captured or otherwise detained by an armed force." More generally, it is "someone held in custody." Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile." In wars between nations, detainees are referenced in the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Detention

    de-ten′shun, n. act of detaining: state of being detained: confinement: delay.—n. Detent′, something to check motion: a catch, esp. in a clock or watch. [See Detain.]

Matched Categories

How to pronounce detention?

How to say detention in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of detention in Chaldean Numerology is: 4

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of detention in Pythagorean Numerology is: 7

Examples of detention in a Sentence

  1. Xavier Becerra:

    This new Trump rule callously puts at risk the safety and well-being of children. It undermines a decades-old agreement reached in court by the federal government to prevent the unlawful detention of immigrant children, we're taking the Trump Administration to court to protect children from the irreparable harm caused by unlawful and unnecessary detention.

  2. Elinor Raikes:

    The EU's decision to withdraw the naval assets in Operation Sophia that provided a vital role in saving lives at sea has meant that thousands more people find themselves trapped in detention centers like Tajoura, detention is not the answer to the protection of people on the move and European Union and the US must find alternative and sustainable solutions for the most vulnerable people.

  3. The ACLU:

    The Trump administration is trying to expand immigration detention to record-breaking levels as part of its crackdown on immigrant communities, we have shown through this case that when immigrants get a fair hearing, judges often release them based on their individual circumstances.

  4. United States:

    Christopher Ahn is Christopher Ahn, christopher Ahn deserves much better treatment than is currently being provided to Christopher Ahn by the United States government, which is housing Christopher Ahn in federal detention in Los Angeles.

  5. Martina Aberg:

    We have been informed and can confirm that there has been a detention of a US citizen Saturday morning local, he was prevented from getting on the flight out of Pyongyang. We don’t comment further than this.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for detention

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

Get even more translations for detention »


Find a translation for the detention definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:

Discuss these detention definitions with the community:



    Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


    "detention." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 5 Dec. 2022. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/detention>.

    Are we missing a good definition for detention? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Browse Definitions.net

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!


    Are you a words master?

    having or resembling a stinger or barb
    • A. equivalent
    • B. appellative
    • C. ectomorphic
    • D. aculeate

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for detention: