1. The act of detaining.
2. The state or a period of being detained, especially:
a. A period of temporary custody while awaiting trial.
b. A holding of a person in custody or confinement by authorities for political or military reasons.
c. A form of punishment by which a student is made to stay after regular school hours.
[Middle English detencioun, act of withholding, from Anglo-Norman, from Latin dētentiō, dētentiōn-, from dētentus, past participle of dētinēre, to detain; see DETAIN.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.