One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Law. The action or fact of retaining money, goods, or property for oneself; an instance of this.
2A token or badge given to a follower by a sovereign or noble as a sign of his retainership. Now rare (historical after 16th cent.).
3Engagement of a person as a servant or follower; an instance of this. Also: maintenance by a sovereign or noble of a company of followers or dependants, who give (especially military) service in return for money, patronage, or protection.
Late Middle English. Either a variant or an alteration of retainer, probably after remainder. Compare also attainder.
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