Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The act of detaining.
  • n. The state or a period of being detained, especially:
  • n. A period of temporary custody while awaiting trial.
  • n. A period of confinement to a detention home.
  • n. A form of punishment by which a student is made to stay after regular school hours.
  • n. A forced or punitive delay.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The act of detaining or the state of being detained.
  • n. A temporary state of custody or confinement, especially of a prisoner awaiting trial, or of a student being punished.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of detaining or keeping back; a withholding.
  • n. The state of being detained (stopped or hindered); delay from necessity.
  • n. Confinement; restraint; custody.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The act of detaining or keeping back; a withholding or keeping of what belongs to or is claimed by another.
  • n. The state of being detained or held back; restraint; confinement.
  • n. Forced stoppage; hindrance; delay from necessity or on account of obstacles.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a state of being confined (usually for a short time)
  • n. a punishment in which a student must stay at school after others have gone home

Etymologies

Middle English detencioun, act of withholding, from Anglo-Norman, from Latin dētentiō, dētentiōn-, from dētentus, past participle of dētinēre, to detain; see detain.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

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