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

  • adj. Having the quality, power, or capacity of retaining.
  • adj. Having the ability or capacity to retain knowledge or information with ease: a retentive memory.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having power to retain; as, a retentive memory.
  • n. That which retains or confines; a restraint.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having power to retain.
  • n. That which retains or confines; a restraint.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Serving to hold or confine; restraining; confining.
  • Retaining; having the power to keep or preserve: as, a body retentive of heat or of magnetism; the retentive force of the stomach.
  • Specifically, in psychology, retaining presentations or ideas; capable of preserving mental presentations.
  • n. That which restrains or confines; a restraint.

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

  • adj. having the capacity to retain something
  • adj. having the power, capacity, or quality of retaining water
  • adj. good at remembering


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Perhaps I simply need to stop being so … "retentive".

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  • He's not obliged to like her ” some people don't, as he points out ” but it is only fair to let your readers know that she has a thoroughly first-rate mind (not just "jaggedly sharp") and a phenomenal (not merely "retentive") memory.

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  • She's a dictionary fan who even coined the joke, "Does 'anal-retentive' have a hyphen?" back in 1990.

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  • Such high standards are an impossibility, therefore, the pushing for that "perfection" creates fake, frustrated, anal retentive, "just for the picture" kind of mothers that become so involved in what they're supposed to be that they forget to love their children.

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  • This, on the other hand, I read because I wanted to see how it came out, not because I spell anal-retentive with the hyphen in.

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  • In fact, these wires are not just twisted together in a sensible, civilized manner, they are wound tight enough to make an anal-retentive boy-scout proud, and then they are doubled over and twisted again.

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  • If my inbox shows more than 60 emails sitting there waiting to be answered or taken care of in some way, I get very anxious (yes, I'm a bit anal-retentive).

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  • KCNA says: It, with effects of both preventive and curative treatment, helps improve mental and retentive faculties by multiplying brain cells.

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  • Away from anal retentive questions of legal formalism, does anyone give a damn as to whether or not it is right/moral/proper for the govt to effectively seize one-sixth of the economy over the clear unambiguous disapproval of the electorate?

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Would “Deem & Pass” Survive Judicial Review?

  • Seriously people, why are you getting all an_l retentive about this?

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