1. the act of detaining.
  2. the state of being detained.
  3. maintenance of a person in custody or confinement, especially while awaiting a court decision.
  4. the withholding of what belongs to or is claimed by another.


  1. of or relating to detention or used to detain: the detention room of a police station.


  1. the act of detaining or state of being detained
    1. custody or confinement, esp of a suspect awaiting trial
    2. (as modifier)a detention order
  2. a form of punishment in which a pupil is detained after school
  3. the withholding of something belonging to or claimed by another

mid-15c., from Middle French détention (13c.), from Late Latin detentionem (nominative detentio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin detinere (see detain). Sense of “confinement” used by 1570s (in reference to Mary Queen of Scots). In reference to school punishment, recorded from 1882.

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