1 [ri-tey-ner]
a person or thing that retains.
a servant or attendant who has served a family for many years.
Also called cage, separator. Machinery. a ring separating, and moving with, balls or rollers in a bearing.
a fixed or removable device worn in the mouth to hold the teeth in their new position during the adaptive period after straightening appliances have been removed.
Prosthodontics. a part on a bridge or the like by which the bridge is attached to the natural teeth.

1530–40; retain + -er1

retainership, noun Unabridged


2 [ri-tey-ner]
the act of retaining in one's service.
the fact of being so retained.
a fee paid to secure services, as of a lawyer.

1425–75; late Middle English reteinir, probably noun use of Middle French retenir to retain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
retainer (rɪˈteɪnə)
1.  history a supporter or dependant of a person of rank, esp a soldier
2.  a servant, esp one who has been with a family for a long time
3.  a clip, frame, or similar device that prevents a part of a machine, engine, etc, from moving
4.  a dental appliance for holding a loose tooth or prosthetic device in position
5.  a fee paid in advance to secure first option on the services of a barrister, jockey, etc
6.  a reduced rent paid for a flat, room, etc, during absence to reserve it for future use

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

"fee to secure services," 1453, "act of keeping for oneself" from retain (perhaps infl. by M.Fr. retenir, infinitive used as a noun). Meaning "fee paid to an attorney to secure his services" is from 1818.

"servant," 1540, from retain (v.). Meaning "dental structure used to hold a bridge in place" is recorded from 1887.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

retainer re·tain·er (rĭ-tā'nər)

  1. One that retains, as a device, frame, or groove that restrains or guides, especially for a prosthesis.

  2. An appliance used to hold teeth in position after orthodontic treatment.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences
The ultimate celebrity status symbol might be having a guy on retainer who can
  pimp your ride.
They can charge clients a retainer to look up things.
The chain tool also has a wire retainer to keep the ends of the chain linked
  when you break it.
Mazda said the rust on the hinges of the wiper arms might be caused by too-thin
  paint film on the retainer hinge.
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