What does detention mean?

Definitions for detention
dɪˈtɛn ʃənde·ten·tion

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage 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.


  1. detention

    Detention is a state of being confined, restrained, or held back, often used in a legal context to refer to someone who is held in custody by law enforcement. Detention can also refer to a disciplinary measure in educational settings where students are required to stay after school or during breaks as punishment for misbehavior.

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.]

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  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. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson:

    I have reached the conclusion that we must make substantial changes in our detention practices with respect to families with children, in short, once a family has established eligibility for asylum or other relief under our laws, long-term detention is an inefficient use of our resources and should be discontinued.

  2. Emmanuel Macron:

    What we're proposing is to have Europe-funded detention centers in the closest and safest country (from the source of the refugee flows), and from these European detention centers... teams should take the people who did not win asylum status back to the country they came from.

  3. Mission Othman Belbeisi:

    Migrants returned by the coast guard should not automatically be transferred to detention and we are deeply concerned that the detention centers will yet again be overcrowded and that living conditions will deteriorate with the recent influx of migrants.

  4. Nadim Houry:

    We know large numbers of people have died in detention in Syria, the only way to get to the bottom of the numbers question is to allow for independent monitors into the detention centers.

  5. Steve Vladeck:

    The number of asylum seekers who will remain in potentially indefinite detention pending disposition of their cases will be almost entirely a question of DHS's detention capacity, and not whether the individual circumstances of individual cases warrant release or detention.

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Translations for detention

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"detention." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 10 Dec. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/detention>.

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    an attitude of irreverence or contempt for a divinity
    • A. fervidness
    • B. meerschaum
    • C. exponent
    • D. profaneness

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