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See also: rétention


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From Middle English retencioun, borrowed from Latin retentiō, retentiōnis, from retentus, the perfect passive participle of retineō (retain) (from re- (back, again) + teneō (hold, keep)).


  • IPA(key): /ɹɪˈtɛnʃən/
  • (file)


retention (countable and uncountable, plural retentions)

  1. The act of retaining or something retained
  2. The act or power of remembering things
  3. A memory; what is retained in the mind
  4. (medicine) The involuntary withholding of urine and faeces
  5. (medicine) The length of time an individual remains in treatment
  6. (obsolete) That which contains something, as a tablet; a means of preserving impressions.
  7. (obsolete) The act of withholding; restraint; reserve.
  8. (obsolete) A place of custody or confinement.
  9. (law) The right to withhold a debt, or of retaining property until a debt due to the person claiming the right is duly paid; a lien.
    • 1754, John Erskine of Carnock, (Please provide the book title or journal name):
      The right of retention, which bears a near resemblance to compensation, is chiefly competent where the mutual debts, not being liquid, cannot be the ground of compensation
  10. (insurance) The portion of a potential damage that must be paid for by the holder of an insurance policy.

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