Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To keep from proceeding; delay or retard.
  • transitive v. To keep in custody or temporary confinement: The police detained several suspects for questioning. The disruptive students were detained after school until their parents had been notified.
  • transitive v. Obsolete To retain or withhold (payment or property, for example).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. Keep (someone) from proceeding by holding them back or making claims on their attention.
  • v. To put under custody.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To keep back or from; to withhold.
  • transitive v. To restrain from proceeding; to stay or stop; to delay.
  • transitive v. To hold or keep in custody.
  • n. Detention.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To keep back or away; withhold; specifically, to keep or retain unjustly.
  • To keep or restrain from proceeding; stay or stop: as, we were detained by the rain.
  • In law, to hold in custody.
  • n. Detention.

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

  • v. deprive of freedom; take into confinement
  • v. stop or halt
  • v. cause to be slowed down or delayed

Etymologies

Middle English deteinen, from Old French detenir, from Vulgar Latin *dētenīre, from Latin dētinēre : dē-, de- + tenēre, to hold; see ten- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

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