Definition of retain in English:



  • 1Continue to have (something); keep possession of.

    ‘Labour retained the seat’
    ‘built in 1830, the house retains many of its original features’
    • ‘A good fitness program will help you reduce your body fat while retaining, or even increasing, your muscle mass.’
    • ‘Cheever sells cars, washes dishes, works in a bookstore, guards perfume and even acts in a haunted house in his efforts to retain gainful employment.’
    • ‘His compositions have retained a universal popularity and continue to be performed in virtually all corners of the world.’
    • ‘The opposition argued that a government required the confidence of both houses to retain office.’
    • ‘With age the wines develop an extraordinary smoky complexity while retaining their characteristic tang of acidity.’
    • ‘Yet whilst department-store glass sheds its entire financial value the moment it has been bought, antique and more modern glass not only retains value but also possesses a unique social resonance.’
    • ‘As one walks up the Max Reger Weg, houses become more modern, but the road retains a rural aspect, being broad, grassy and lined with hedges.’
    • ‘The new textures serve the band's sound accordingly, and enable them to explore new compositional directions while retaining a degree of continuity earlier albums missed.’
    • ‘Conductors, too, can retain their musical powers long after physical vigour has departed.’
    • ‘A double bedroom to the back of the house retains the original mahogany surround cast-iron fireplace and an en suite bathroom with a bath.’
    • ‘This light-filled house retains a number of attractive period features, such as high ceilings and ceiling coving, and is new on the books of Sherry FitzGerald in Ranelagh.’
    • ‘Accordingly high quality road connections, both at local and at national level, are critical if the port is to sustain continued growth and retain its current market share.’
    • ‘Many seniors continue to retain one valuable asset: their home.’
    • ‘He retains his wonderful sense of humor and continues to make his sardonic comments on life, as it is lived in the ballet world of George Zoritch.’
    • ‘The descendants of her son, Charles Lennox, Duke of Richmond, who bought the family estate, Goodwood House, retain his title to this day.’
    • ‘Siegal's dream is to reinvent a mobile house, retaining the concepts of affordability and flexibility but shaking up the bland design notions that now dominate the genre.’
    • ‘Set on a quiet street, this 102 square metre redbrick period house has been extensively refurbished but still retains its original charm.’
    • ‘I have written my continuation tests and passed with high enough marks to retain my scholarship.’
    • ‘As everyone found their seats and rearranged themselves until content, Jen retained her blank stare.’
    • ‘Rather, they represent historic reserves and retain their roles as art educational facilities with unique resources that continue to develop.’
    keep, keep possession of, keep hold of, hold on to, hold fast to, keep back, hang on to, cling to
    maintain, keep, continue, preserve, reserve, conserve, perpetuate, cherish
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    1. 1.1Not abolish or alter; maintain.
      ‘the rights of defendants must be retained’
      • ‘Since you never give up ownership, you retain the right to control all of its uses.’
      • ‘We must ensure that we always retain our democratic right to self-determination, our right to agree or disagree on any question.’
      • ‘Central government would only retain powers over public health, regulation, training and research.’
      • ‘Ownership of the hotel must be retained for seven years in order to avoid a claw-back of relief.’
      • ‘The Supreme Court still retains the traditional British robes, wigs, and format.’
      • ‘Do you know of a site to post photos where one still retains ownership of their photos?’
      • ‘It decided from the start to set itself apart from other lowcost airlines by retaining service features, such as allocated seating, and it sees service quality as a marketing tool to differentiate itself from the herd.’
      • ‘Countrywide also retains the right to collect mortgage payments, which generates income from fees.’
      • ‘In this strategic alliance, the three firms pool their resources to offer clients the depth and breadth of their combined expertise while retaining their respective corporate identities.’
      • ‘Although the United States vacated its bases, it retains the right to defend the canal against an attack from any source.’
      • ‘In other words, although Parliament was repealing the Stamp Act, it retained its right to govern America.’
      • ‘Each state must retain its right to determine for itself how it will extend online, and if we disagree with their choice we should argue and use political channels to achieve our ends.’
      • ‘From the time of Charlemagne the above-named German tribes lived under Frankish constitution retaining their own old laws, the leges barbarorum, which Charlemagne codified.’
      • ‘This response encourages creators to forego some rights available under copyright law while retaining others.’
      • ‘You would retain all other ownership of your work.’
      • ‘Germany will also be exempt, but following recent proposals from its government will retain its own mandatory system.’
      • ‘He also retains ownership of the paper's printing division.’
      • ‘Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has signalled that he intends retaining the controversial Groceries Order, despite admitting that abolishing it would bring down prices.’
      • ‘Foley did not express a view on whether the Groceries Order should be retained or abolished.’
      • ‘In the end, the independent operator retains the right to sue, and it's not hard to figure out who's going to pay.’
      • ‘For this reason, that system has been retained throughout this article.’
      maintain, keep, continue, preserve, reserve, conserve, perpetuate, cherish
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    2. 1.2Keep in one's memory.
      ‘I retained a few French words and phrases’
      • ‘Walking past ever remaining durable pavements over hundreds of years old, she'd retained her past memories.’
      • ‘If I remember correctly people only retain about 5% of what they read.’
      • ‘As has been demonstrated in the ‘Facets’ episode and many others, Trill hosts retain many of the memories and emotions of prior hosts.’
      • ‘It's retaining what I need to know and being able to reapply it where it needs be that's the hard part.’
      • ‘Augustine is sure that without language, his own and that of others, there is no memory; he cannot retain or pass on to others, what he cannot put into words.’
      • ‘From the very hazy memories of reading on caves that she still retained, she thought she remembered that it was always the same temperature in a cave, but that didn't mean it was warm.’
      • ‘I remember nothing of said servants and retain only the vaguest memory of my nanny - though her name has completely slipped my mind.’
      • ‘Whereas Mozart famously detested Salzburg, Zehetmair retains much fonder memories of his home town.’
      • ‘Architecture is, at a very different scale, to be consumed and hopefully retained in the memory.’
      • ‘I never remembered such a person as this in the few and scattered memories I still retained from my childhood.’
      • ‘But a spectator can hold only so much in memory and is unlikely to retain more than the first three rounds; the succeeding material begins to blur.’
      • ‘What is the subject matter and how can it be presented in a way that students understand and retain.’
      • ‘Going by what little memory she retained from that foggy night, she maneuvered in the direction that she believed lay the river.’
      • ‘The teacher looked kindly enough, but upon listening to his lesson of Lethe's history and geography she found him to be quite boring, and began to doze, somehow retaining most of the information he droned at her.’
      • ‘Pheadrus is an elf that has been reincarnated from a human thief; he retains most of his memories and skills from when he was a thief as well as skills from his current life as an elf.’
      • ‘He blew a kiss goodbye to his home for many months, hoping to retain many of the memories that had been created there.’
      • ‘Chances are it will help them retain your information better and use it more effectively.’
      remember, memorize, keep in one's mind, keep in one's memory
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  • 2Absorb and continue to hold (a substance)

    ‘limestone is known to retain water’
    • ‘The job was one that must be done every fall when the crops are in - removing the long strips of black plastic mulch that warms the soil, retains moisture, and stifles the weeds.’
    • ‘The excess mineral supplemented to steers in the group fed at six times the NRC recommendation seems not to have been retained by the animal or stored in the liver.’
    • ‘Sodium attracts fluid, and when people retain fluid they have trouble breathing.’
    • ‘Also, if the weather is particularly dry, a pruning sealer will help the tree retain more moisture.’
    • ‘The filtration process works by physically removing the contaminants from the water and retaining them within the filter medium.’
    • ‘The more water a place retains throughout the year, the more complex an ecosystem it can support.’
    • ‘When stalks and roots from an average corn crop are left to deteriorate in a no-till system, more than 1000 pounds of carbon per acre can be retained in the soil as humus.’
    • ‘Carbon-rich organic matter does this by reducing soil erosion while helping soil retain and break down pesticides and excess nutrients.’
    • ‘Although Charon is very small, and would not have much gravity to hold on to an atmosphere, it is so far from the sun and so cold that the researchers speculate some gases could yet be retained.’
    • ‘It helps soil retain more water and nutrients and helps soil hold together, making it better able to resist erosion by rain or snowmelt.’
    • ‘Containers that have soils high in organic matter retain soil moisture longer than other growing media.’
    • ‘Taking essential fatty acid supplements can help the skin retain more moisture and thus resist wrinkles.’
    • ‘In the burning process most carbon, nitrogen and sulphur are lost in gaseous form, whereas phosphorus, potassium and calcium are retained in the ash.’
    • ‘These toxins prevent the body absorbing nutrients from food, and poison it by retaining waste matter which should have been ‘flushed’ away.’
  • 3Keep (something) in place; hold fixed.

    ‘remove the retaining bar’
    • ‘To ensure the data or slide projector is secure on top of the trolley there is a retaining bar.’
    • ‘Disconnect the plastic retaining clip mounted to the interior of the door.’
  • 4Keep (someone) engaged in one's service.

    ‘he has been retained as a freelance’
    • ‘Additional vacation time or flex time may help your firm recruit and retain employees, but that's usually an insufficient incentive.’
    • ‘But university administrators complain that the funding crunch is hobbling their efforts to recruit and retain the world's best and brightest.’
    • ‘The third new direction, increased ethical behavior by businesses, has to do, in part, with recruiting and retaining good people.’
    • ‘In a way it was a compliment that the Director was so keen to retain him that he was happy to pay him the salary of someone doing the job at least one grade above the actual day to day reality of the work.’
    • ‘English-speaking managers are more likely to be recruited and retained in Toronto than in Montreal.’
    • ‘During busy season, overtime is a given and layoffs during slow times may frustrate the ability to recruit and retain skilled employees.’
    • ‘Likewise, a CEO has no obligation to retain someone whom the business no longer needs.’
    • ‘Finding, hiring, motivating and retaining employees is a challenge far CEOs - especially in the high-tech arena.’
    • ‘Downsizing, however, cuts deep and employees with a decade or more of service are laid off, while the firm retains those with greater seniority.’
    • ‘Build loyalty by hiring and retaining good employees and provide them with regular training.’
    • ‘New owners will have to consider whether to retain him.’
    • ‘The ten commandments of managing won't ensure that you'll always get and retain the best people.’
    • ‘But they also believe that a company's viability depends on recruiting and retaining people who can work, change, and innovate over the long term.’
    • ‘Employers' decisions to hire and retain will be influenced by information asymmetries regarding an individual's human capital.’
    • ‘The internal auditors must explain to company members why a firm is retained as external auditor without a public tender.’
    • ‘Recruiting and retaining skilled scientists and engineers is no easy task; furthermore, such professionals often seek freedom to interact with their peers in other firms.’
    • ‘A management company has been retained to take care of the grounds and a service fee of £650 will apply each year.’
    • ‘Wage and price controls in effect during World War II meant employers had to turn to forms of non-cash compensation to recruit or retain workers.’
    • ‘Still, an experienced securities lawyer should be retained to advise on deal terms.’
    • ‘Parliamentary hostility forced his resignation shortly afterwards, but the king retained him in his counsels.’
    • ‘While this is hardly news, attracting and retaining the best people is increasingly important - and there's a new twist to this traditional concern.’
    • ‘How much will it impact your business if you can't find, recruit and retain the people with the specific skills you require to achieve your objectives?’
    employ, commission, contract, pay, keep on the payroll, have in employment
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    1. 4.1Secure the services of (a barrister) with a preliminary payment.
      ‘retain a barrister to handle the client's business’
      • ‘Still, an experienced securities lawyer should be retained to advise on deal terms.’
      • ‘Bank sources said that he has retained lawyers in Belfast and Dublin in anticipation of a possible compensation claim against the bank.’
      • ‘Surely it is intended to relax the automatic laws of copyright and yet retain some level of recognition and control without having to incur the expense of retaining a copyright lawyer.’
      • ‘There are reports that a support group for bogus non-resident account holders has retained lawyers to fight a number of cases against financial institutions.’
      • ‘Similarly, given the litigious nature of his business, it would have been great to know the names and phone numbers of the lawyers he had retained.’
      • ‘The consequence of disqualifying a judge or lawyer is that a new one is assigned or retained.’
      • ‘On returning to Mobile she retained attorney Norborne R. Clarke to draft a plan based on the Colorado model for a separate juvenile court and detention home in Mobile.’
      • ‘It appears that solicitors Matheson Ormsby Prentice were retained to provide advice on the framing of the legislation.’
      • ‘Leading commercial barristers Michael Cush SC and Bill Shipsey SC have been retained to act for the plaintiffs in the case.’
      • ‘Lawyers have been retained on all sides in what may prove a legal minefield.’
      • ‘Representatives from the company or the law firm it has retained could not be reached for comment this afternoon.’
      • ‘Prominent Cayman law firms have been retained to act in what, for the Caymans, is a major case.’
      • ‘Not yet arrived was Timothy Beach from Lincoln in nearby Logan County, a veteran criminal lawyer retained to assist the prosecution.’
      • ‘You retain a lawyer to litigate the case, although under most policies, the attorney will be assigned to you by your insurer.’


Late Middle English: via Anglo-Norman French from Old French retenir, from Latin retinere, from re- back + tenere hold.