the act of detaining.
the state of being detained.
maintenance of a person in custody or confinement, especially while awaiting a court decision.
the withholding of what belongs to or is claimed by another.
of or pertaining to detention or used to detain: the detention room of a police station.

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin dētentiōn- (stem of dētentiō), equivalent to dētent(us) detained (past participle of dētinēre; see detain) + -iōn- -ion

nondetention, noun
predetention, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To detention
World English Dictionary
detention (dɪˈtɛnʃən)
1.  the act of detaining or state of being detained
2.  a.  custody or confinement, esp of a suspect awaiting trial
 b.  (as modifier): a detention order
3.  a form of punishment in which a pupil is detained after school
4.  the withholding of something belonging to or claimed by another
[C16: from Latin dētentiō a keeping back; see detain]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

mid-15c., from M.Fr. detention, from L.L. detentionem (nom. detentio), from L. detinere (see detain). Sense of "confinement" first used c.1570 in reference to Mary Queen of Scots. In reference to school punishment, recorded from 1882.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica


the practice of incarcerating accused individuals before trial on the assumption that their release would not be in the best interest of society-specifically, that they would be likely to commit additional crimes if they were released. Preventive detention is also used when the release of the accused is felt to be detrimental to the state's ability to carry out its investigation. In some countries the practice has been attacked as a denial of certain fundamental rights of the accused.

Learn more about detention with a free trial on

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
But when many of these soldiers wrote home, they addressed their letters to
  detention centers.
Arbitrary detention is common in both town and country.
Her detention on corruption charges has made her more popular than ever.
Both the country's leading civilian politicians are in detention.
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature