verb (used with object)
- to keep possession of.
- to continue to use, practice, etc.: to retain an old custom.
- to continue to hold or have: to retain a prisoner in custody; a cloth that retains its color.
- to keep in mind; remember.
- to hold in place or position.
- to engage, especially by payment of a preliminary fee: to retain a lawyer.
- to keep in one’s possession
- to be able to hold or containsoil that retains water
- (of a person) to be able to remember (information, facts, etc) without difficulty
- to hold in position
- to keep for one’s future use, as by paying a retainer or nominal chargeto retain one’s rooms for the holidays
- law to engage the services of (a barrister) by payment of a preliminary fee
- (in selling races) to buy back a winner that one owns when it is auctioned after the race
- (of racehorse trainers) to pay an advance fee to (a jockey) so as to have prior or exclusive claims upon his services throughout the season
late 14c., “hold back, restrain;” c.1400, “continue keeping, keep possession of,” from Old French retenir “keep, retain; take into feudal service; hold back; remember” (12c.), from Latin retinere “hold back, keep back, detain, restrain,” from re- “back” (see re-) + tenere “to hold” (see tenet). Meaning “keep (another) attached to one’s person, keep in service” is from mid-15c.; specifically of lawyers from 1540s. Meaning “keep in the mind” is from c.1500. Related: Retained; retaining.