Definition of custody in US English:



  • 1The protective care or guardianship of someone or something.

    ‘the property was placed in the custody of a trustee’
    • ‘On the same day, the society's motion for temporary care and custody was dismissed.’
    • ‘For a long period, Chiprovtsi was the seat of the Bulgarian Catholic custody.’
    • ‘Except as provided in another state statute, property located in Indiana or another state is subject to the custody of this state as unclaimed property if the property is presumed abandoned.’
    • ‘Some of the culture clash between care and custody can be dealt with.’
    • ‘The pair will be disqualified from having custody or care of farm animals for five years.’
    care, guardianship, charge, keeping, safe keeping, wardship, ward, responsibility, protection, guidance, tutelage
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Imprisonment.
      ‘my father was being taken into custody’
      • ‘All 19 men were taken into custody and transferred to a detention centre in Fallujah.’
      • ‘Our decision, if it goes against him, means that he is taken into custody now to serve his sentence?’
      • ‘Both brothers have already served nine months in custody on remand.’
      • ‘The female magistrate had sat on the bench at the applicant's trial for escaping lawful custody.’
      • ‘According to the International Red Cross, a number of people apparently in U.S. custody are unaccounted for.’
      • ‘Some have been taken into custody because they lived in the same apartment buildings as the hijackers.’
      • ‘He was taken to Westlea police station where he still remains in police custody awaiting further questioning.’
      • ‘They are in police custody awaiting court hearings about their deportations.’
      • ‘Four others are in custody for suspected immigration offences and one has been released.’
      • ‘Most were taken into custody during the international armed conflict in Afghanistan.’
      • ‘The whole of the prisoners taken into custody on Monday were taken before G.W. Chambers Esq. on Tuesday.’
      • ‘He agreed to stay in custody until his next court appearance scheduled in two weeks.’
      • ‘The two Libyans have now been in custody awaiting trial for 467 days.’
      • ‘His own lawyers questioned India's authority to hold him in custody without bail based on an accusation alone.’
      • ‘The three were taken into custody in connection with alleged plans to attack the US embassy in Paris.’
      • ‘She was arrested later that day and held in custody until her appearance yesterday.’
      • ‘She was handcuffed and taken into custody, and then taken for medical treatment.’
      • ‘Joseph said information from the Police Commissioner indicated that 33 of the 111 were remanded in custody without bail.’
      • ‘Cooper will be held in custody until his next court appearance in May.’
      • ‘He was freed because of the time he had already spent in custody on remand.’
      imprisonment, detention, confinement, incarceration, internment, captivity
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Law Parental responsibility, especially as allocated to one of two divorcing parents.
      ‘he was trying to get custody of their child’
      • ‘Once the bum is evicted, file a petition for divorce and temporary custody of the kids.’
      • ‘Of the remaining four fathers in this study, two reported that they had joint legal custody of their children.’
      • ‘Sometimes this was because a parent who had custody of the children moved away and made little attempt to keep contact.’
      • ‘They described a California study in which joint custody was sometimes awarded to resolve familial conflicts.’
      • ‘In cases where a couple has a child out of wedlock, the child will take the name of the parent who has custody of the child.’
      • ‘The court then has a difficult task in determining which parent should have custody of Michael.’
      • ‘Karl's father was awarded sole custody of the child and Ruth was permitted supervised visits.’
      • ‘In Burns, the mother had full custody of two children and the parents shared custody of a third child.’
      • ‘They threw it out, because the plaintiff did not have legal custody of his daughter.’
      • ‘I've had sole custody of my son since he was 6.’
      • ‘Really think about what kind of custody arrangement you would have with your spouse.’
      • ‘In a divorce, fathers control custody of sons over the age of two and daughters over the age of seven.’
      • ‘Both the applicant and the respondent were seeking sole custody of the children.’
      • ‘In 1970s Britain, the idea that a father would be granted custody of a baby daughter was unheard of.’
      • ‘Christopher is seeking legal and physical custody of the kids.’
      • ‘He agreed not to contest my divorce petition and conceded custody of Julian to me.’
      • ‘The relevant legislation compels an absent parent to pay money to the parent with custody of the child.’
      • ‘I am however prepared to grant the wife sole interim interim custody at this time.’
      • ‘It is almost standard practice in divorce courts for custody of children to be given to the mother.’
      • ‘After a divorce, men assume custody of boys over three years and girls over seven.’


Late Middle English: from Latin custodia, from custos ‘guardian’.