What does retain mean?

Definitions for retain

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word retain.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. retainverb

    hold back within

    "This soil retains water"; "I retain this drug for a long time"; "the dam retains the water"

  2. retain, continue, keep, keep onverb

    allow to remain in a place or position or maintain a property or feature

    "We cannot continue several servants any longer"; "She retains a lawyer"; "The family's fortune waned and they could not keep their household staff"; "Our grant has run out and we cannot keep you on"; "We kept the work going as long as we could"; "She retained her composure"; "this garment retains its shape even after many washings"

  3. retain, hold, keep back, hold backverb

    secure and keep for possible future use or application

    "The landlord retained the security deposit"; "I reserve the right to disagree"

  4. retainverb

    keep in one's mind

    "I cannot retain so much information"


  1. retainverb

    To keep in possession or use.

  2. retainverb

    To keep in one's pay or service.

  3. retainverb

    To employ by paying a retainer.

  4. retainverb

    To hold secure.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. To RETAINverb

    Etymology: retineo, Lat. retenir, Fr.

    Where is the patience now,
    That you so oft have boasted to retain. William Shakespeare, K. Lear.

    Though th’ offending part felt mortal pain,
    Th’ immortal part its knowledge did retain. John Denham.

    The vigor of this arm was never vain;
    And that my wonted prowess I retain,
    Witness these heaps of slaughter. Dryden.

    A tomb and fun’ral honours I decreed;
    The place your armour and your name retains. Dryden.

    Whatever ideas the mind can receive and contemplate without the help of the body, it is reasonable to conclude, it can retain without the help of the body too. John Locke.

    Let me retain
    The name and all the addition to a king;
    The sway, beloved sons, be yours. William Shakespeare, King Lear.

    As they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind. Rom. i. 22.

    Although they retain the word mandrake in the text, yet they retract it in the margin. Thomas Browne, Vulgar Errours.

    Be obedient and retain
    Unalterably firm his love entire. John Milton.

    They, who have restored painting in Germany, not having seen any of those fair reliques of antiquity, have retained much of that barbarous method. Dryden.

    Receive him that is mine own bowels; whom I would have retained with me. Philem. xii. 13.

    Hollow rocks retain the sound of blust’ring winds. John Milton.

    A Benedictine convent has now retained the most learned father of their order to write in its defence. Addison.

  2. To Retainverb

    These betray upon the tongue no heat nor corrosiveness, but coldness mixed with a somewhat languid relish retaining to bitterness. Boyle.

    In animals many actions depend upon their living form, as well as that of mixtion, and though they wholly seem to retain to the body, depart upon disunion. Brown.

    No more can impure man retain and move
    In the pure region of that worthy love,
    Than earthly substance can unforc’d aspire,
    And leave his nature to converse with fire. John Donne.



    RETAIN is a mainframe based database system, accessed via IBM 3270 terminals (or more likely, emulators), used internally within IBM providing service support to IBM field personnel and customers. The acronym RETAIN stands for Remote Technical Assistance Information Network.


  1. retain

    To retain is to keep possession of or continue to have something. It can also refer to the ability to hold or contain something, like liquids, heat, or information. Furthermore, it can mean to keep someone in a particular position or role.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Retainverb

    to continue to hold; to keep in possession; not to lose, part with, or dismiss; to retrain from departure, escape, or the like

  2. Retainverb

    to keep in pay; to employ by a preliminary fee paid; to hire; to engage; as, to retain a counselor

  3. Retainverb

    to restrain; to prevent

  4. Retainverb

    to belong; to pertain

  5. Retainverb

    to keep; to continue; to remain



    RETAIN is a mainframe based database system, accessed via IBM 3270 terminals, used internally within IBM providing service support to IBM field personnel and customers. The acronym RETAIN stands for REmote Technical Assistance Information Network.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Retain

    rē-tān′, v.t. to keep in possession: to detain: to employ by a fee paid: to restrain: to keep up, as to retain a custom: to keep in mind.—adj. Retain′able, that may be retained.—ns. Retain′er, one who is retained or kept in service: a dependant, but higher than a servant: a sutler: a retaining fee; Retain′ership; Retain′ment.—Retaining fee, the advance fee paid to a lawyer to defend a cause; Retaining wall, a wall to prevent a bank from slipping down.—General retainer, a fee to secure a priority of claim on a counsel's services; Special retainer, a fee for a particular case. [Fr.,—L. retinērere-, back, tenēre, to hold.]

Editors Contribution

  1. retain

    To keep a specific type of form, structure or memory.

    The memory stick retained its memory and the data that was saved onto it.

    Submitted by MaryC on January 7, 2020  

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'retain' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #3773

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'retain' in Written Corpus Frequency: #4493

  3. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'retain' in Verbs Frequency: #317

Anagrams for retain »

  1. retina

  2. tin ear

  3. nerita

  4. tanier

  5. ratine

How to pronounce retain?

How to say retain in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of retain in Chaldean Numerology is: 9

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of retain in Pythagorean Numerology is: 4

Examples of retain in a Sentence

  1. Benjamin Netanyahu:

    Iran must not be allowed to set itself up as a nuclear threshold state, there is no reason for it to retain thousands of centrifuges which would allow it to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb in a short period of time.

  2. Edward Houghton:

    Today, if you retire at 60, you're likely to live for at least another 20 years, so you probably need to retain some exposure to growth via equity markets, at least initially, and then later on you may choose to annuitise, or look for a form of guaranteed return.

  3. Sarkis Naoum:

    We will see under the plan B what he will retain, it might be impossible for him in the long term to retain Damascus, Aleppo or Hama. He will have the coastal area including Homs.

  4. Mary Wortley Montagu:

    Prudent people are very happy 'tis an exceeding fine thing, that's certain, but I was born without it, and shall retain to my day of Death the Humour of saying what I think.

  5. Marcus Tullius Cicero:

    When you wish to instruct, be brief that men's minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for retain

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"retain." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 1 Oct. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/retain>.

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    cause to feel shame; hurt the pride of
    • A. cleave
    • B. famish
    • C. transpire
    • D. abase

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