tr.v. re·tained, re·tain·ing, re·tains
a. To keep possession of; continue to have: The family sold the house but retained the land. See Synonyms at keep.
b. To keep in a particular place or condition: a library that retains the author's papers; plants that retain a lot of water.
c. To continue to have as a feature or aspect: retains his good humor after all the setbacks.
2. To keep in mind; remember: retains the songs she learned in childhood.
3. To require (a student) to repeat a class or grade because of insufficient educational progress to advance.
a. To keep in one's service or pay: retain employees on a workforce.
b. To hire (an attorney, for example) by the payment of a fee.
c. To hire a person for (that person's services): retained the best legal advice available.
[Middle English reteinen, from Old French retenir, from Latin retinēre : re-, re- + tenēre, to hold; see ten- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 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.