verb (used with object)

  1. to keep possession of.
  2. to continue to use, practice, etc.: to retain an old custom.
  3. to continue to hold or have: to retain a prisoner in custody; a cloth that retains its color.
  4. to keep in mind; remember.
  5. to hold in place or position.
  6. to engage, especially by payment of a preliminary fee: to retain a lawyer.

verb (tr)

  1. to keep in one’s possession
  2. to be able to hold or containsoil that retains water
  3. (of a person) to be able to remember (information, facts, etc) without difficulty
  4. to hold in position
  5. to keep for one’s future use, as by paying a retainer or nominal chargeto retain one’s rooms for the holidays
  6. law to engage the services of (a barrister) by payment of a preliminary fee
  7. (in selling races) to buy back a winner that one owns when it is auctioned after the race
  8. (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.

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